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UNAIDS Regional Director ends mission to Liberia

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The Regional Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) for West and Central Africa (WCA) Dr. Djibril Diallo has concluded a four-day official mission to Liberia.

Dr. Diallo was accompanied by Dr. Joy Backory, Regional Community Mobilization and Networking Adviser of WCA. The mission took place in the context of the newly adopted Political Declaration on ending AIDS by 2030 in June 2016 at the UN General Assembly in New York, USA.

A press release issued here says during the mission, Dr. Diallo delivered the message of the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the people of the Republic of Liberia on the nation’s contributions to the global response to ending AIDS.

The UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa who  arrived in the country recently from Dakar, Senegal also requested President Szirleaf’s support as an eminent personality and Chair of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) toward the operationalization of the Political Declaration on ending AIDS by 2030 as well as development and finalization of an Emergency Plan for the West and Central Africa Region.

The WCA Emergency Plan is an emanation of the Political Declaration which is aimed at catalyzing the country and the region on ending AIDS as public health threat by 2030. Visiting the offices of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf before his departure, Dr. Diallo also acknowledged the resilience of her government to have eradicated Ebola and the level of work done so far toward ending AIDS, especially now that the region anticipates in developing an Emergency Plan which will help close gaps in the AIDS response.

The UNAIDS Country Office and the National AIDS Commission had earlier highlighted the advances and challenges that are ahead of Liberia’s AIDS response. The mission also pointed out the West and Central Africa Region is behind the progress as testified in various reports both by UNAIDS and others: Only 29 per cent of People living with HIV and AIDS in the West and Central Africa region have access to antiretroviral treatment whereas these coverage is at 54 per cent in East and Central Africa.

In particular, Dr. Diallo averred that the strong leadership of President Sirleaf exercised during the heights of the Ebola crisis thereby addressing not only issues of Ebola but HIV and AIDS, could be used in mobilizing regional and international efforts now that she chairs the ECOWAS.

The UNAIDS Regional Director further noted that the quest of the regional team is to use Liberia as the “Island of Hope” for the West and Central Region and the world at large both from the lessons of the AIDS and Ebola response.

“The West and Central Africa Emergency Plan to achieve the 90-90-90 will aimed at catalysing the ECOWAS regional AIDS plan and cross-fertilization with the regional health security efforts and other regional health programmes,”said Dr. Diallo.

In response, President Sirleaf committed strong support to the national, regional and global effort to ending AIDS and to provide political support for the Emergency Plan on ending AIDS in West and Central Africa in line with the UN Political Declaration on AIDS adopted in New York in June 2016.

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