Society for AIDS in Africa unveils its new strategic plan for 2011- 2015

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Society for AIDS in Africa unveils its new strategic plan for 2011- 2015

06 December 2011

Dr. Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa accepts the Society for AIDS in Africa’s award for her extraordinary commitment to the AIDS response in Africa.
Credit: UNAIDS/P.Wiggers

The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) launched its Strategic Plan for 2011 - 2015 at the side-lines of the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). The SAA presented its strategy, together with the long-term vision of an African continent free of HIV, TB and Malaria.

Writing the foreword for the strategic plan, UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé said that the recent progress seen in the AIDS response, such as the 20% drop in new HIV infections over the past 10 years, could never have been possible without the dynamic drive of the scientific community.

“The Society for AIDS in Africa [as the] custodian of the International Conference of AIDS and STIs in Africa offers researches, policy-makers and communities a platform for exchange, mobilization and promotion of scientific innovation,” said Mr Sidibé. 

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Programme, Dr Paul De Lay, who spoke on behalf of Mr Sidibé at the launch of the strategy, outlined that, in addition to adopting the UNAIDS vision Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths, the SAA strategy also calls for zero malaria and zero tuberculosis, while advocating for the promotion of social justice and equity in treatment access. “We fully support this comprehensive vision,” said Dr De Lay.  

Bringing science and politics together—as AIDS conferences do—can really shape the agenda, set benchmarks and re-energize people to strive toward common goals

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme Paul De Lay

The SAA’s five year strategic plan recognizes the need for increased evidence-informed programmes to respond to HIV in Africa. It capitalizes on SAA’s strength of ICASA as the leading forum for sharing AIDS research to drive policy on the continent as well as to advocate for an enabling environment to prevent HIV.

“Bringing science, politics and communities together—as AIDS conferences do—can shape the agenda, set benchmarks and re-energize people to strive towards common goals,” said Dr De Lay.

Other speakers at the event were the President of SAA, Prof. Robert Soudré, IAS President, Elly Katabira and the Executive Director of SAfAIDS Louis Chingandu who revealed that Durban, South Africa will host the next ICASA, scheduled to take place in 2013.

Leadership awards

An award ceremony also took place at the event to recognize people who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the Society for AIDS in Africa’s AIDS response in Africa over the past few years. Dr. Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa, was among the recipients. She received the award from the Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and former UNAIDS Executive Director Prof. Peter Piot.

“I’ve always believed in partnerships and team work,” said Dr Grunitzky-Bekele. “This award is truly a recognition of the leadership of those working on the AIDS response in Africa.” Other recipients of the award included Professor Femi Soyinka, a former SAA President, and Mr. Bernard Kadasia, Director of Policy and Communications at the International AIDS Society.

The Society for AIDS in Africa is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1989 which has as its vision an African continent free of HIV, TB and Malaria. It aims to achieve this goal by promoting policies and research that support government responses to these diseases.