First Lady Calls for Innovative Solutions to Address Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at the 71st UN General Assembly organized by the Organisation of African First Ladies By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte
First Lady Calls for Innovative Solutions to Address Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at the 71st UN General Assembly organized by the Organisation of African First Ladies
By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte
First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma today (September 21, 2016) called for innovative solutions to the pressing issues of adolescent sexual and reproductive health that "we can take back to our homes". She made this call during a high level event in the margins of the 71st UN General Assembly organized by the Organisation of African First Ladies in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund, Alere Foundation and International Plan Parenthood Foundation (IPPF).
Delivering her address as chair of the panel on the theme: "Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescent Girls: The role of First Ladies", Mrs. Koroma expressed the importance of sustaining momentum in addressing the health related human rights of young people around the world today.
According to the First Lady, health is considered a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development, as poor health threatens educational and economic opportunities and impoverishes communities and countries. She noted that health issues are encapsulated as an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) target, in goal 3: "To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages."
Quoting Amnesty International USA, Mrs. Koroma said that all individuals have the right to a "healthy, safe, consensual and enjoyable sex life, to control their bodies and have sufficient accurate information to use in making decisions and seeking healthy behaviours; and to have affordable, accessible services that keep them healthy, not only when pregnant but before and after - and even if they choose never to get pregnant."
On the consequences of lack of access or insufficient sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, First Lady Mrs. Sia Koroma explained that young people between the ages of 10-24 years, particularly girls, are vulnerable especially when it comes to lack of adequate sexual and reproductive health services, saying that unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, maternal and child health mortality and poor health outcomes as well as risks of HIV/AIDS are the consequences. She went on to explain that lack of SRH services impacts the ability of adolescents to complete their education, limits their access to gainful employment, impairs their capacity to take their own decisions and to have a voice in their communities. "Moreover, it has been shown that completing their education will allow young people to access information and knowledge that will help them to plan their families better, delay the start of their families and space births leading to quality of life," the First Lady emphasised.
Highlighting the factors that contribute to lack of adolescents' access to SRH services, Mrs. Koroma pointed out that early or child marriage denies them the opportunity to access the right information, knowledge or resources to request SRH services, to prevent pregnancy, or take decisions about their sexual activities and their bodies. She therefore underlined the need to utilise a combination of interventions to help improve SRH or health outcomes in young people between the ages of 10-24, and called for a coordinated, multi-sectorial approach to provide improved access to SRH services and better health outcomes for young people.
Mrs. Sia Koroma went on to urge her colleague First Ladies to use their unique position to advocate for and influence the process of providing SRH services to Adolescent girls. "Many of us have already taken steps to combat issues such as teenage pregnancy and child marriage. Only last month, the Vice President of Sierra Leone and I launched the African Union's Campaign to End Child Marriage," she told a jammed packed hall of African First Ladies.
She further explained that in 2013, her office was part of the National Teenage Pregnancy Strategic launch which she rolled out at district level as well as organised annual camps with adolescent girls, regular summits to engage young women on their rights and empower them with knowledge and information. Mrs. Koroma also encouraged her colleagues to focus on advocacy for education of girls, life skills to empower them, SRH information and services especially for adolescents boys and girls, community and parental education, influence the narrative of girls to highlight the positive aspects of womanhood, provide role models for young girls, and finally advocate for laws and policies to protect girls from harmful traditional practices such as child marriage.
 First Lady Calls for Innovative Solutions to Address Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at the 71st UN General Assembly organized by the Organisation of African First LadiesBy Jarrah Kawusu-Konte      First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma today (September 21, 2016) called for innovative solutions to the pressing issues of adolescent sexual and reproductive health that "we can take back to our homes". She made this call during a high level event in the margins of the 71st UN General Assembly organized by the Organisation of African First Ladies in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund, Alere Foundation and International Plan Parenthood Foundation (IPPF). Delivering her address as chair of the panel on the theme: "Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescent Girls:
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HER EXCELLENCY SIA NYAMA KOROMA SECURES MORE SUPPORT FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS IN SIERRA LEONE
In a bid to eradicate the dreadful Hiv/Aids virus in Sierra Leone in line with Africa’s common position of ending the disease on the continent by 2030; Her Excellency the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma has secured a major boost to halt the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone at the just concluded Africa’s First Ladies Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addressing the 16th Ordinary Session of the General Assembly of the Oganisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs. Koroma stated that she was extremely happy to report that Sierra Leone has defeated the Ebola Virus Disease which was also a major threat to the fight against Hiv/Aids in the country. She said Sierra Leone was ready for business as its recovery programme had already started following the end of the second devastating war in the country during the last two decades; citing the civil conflict which ended in 2002 and the Ebola Virus Disease. H. E. Mrs. Koroma informed the Assembly that the Four Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits provided to her office by Alere Diagnostic was handed over to the country’s National HIV and AIDS Secretariat in 2015 to test pregnant women for HIV and Syphilis as part of the prevention of mother to child transmission. She stated that the method of screening was innovative and highly successful because pregnant women were not only tested for sexually transmitted infections that would have been deadly to themselves and unborn babies , but also encouraged more pregnant women especially the younger to report for treatment and care. The First Lady reported that the kits were nationally validated in 2014 and were discovered to be 100% sensitive and specific. She said the algorithm of the testing has been identified, training on its use completed, and that the post market validation was also finalized. She informed the Assembly that pilot test of the kits was carried out in five clinics within the Western District of the country where the capital city of Freetown is located. She explained that a total of 3,950 pregnant women went through the process successfully and that 97 of them were tested positive for HIV, 6 were tested positive for syphilis and 5 were also tested for both HIV and Syphilis. Her Excellency the First Lady informed her peers that despite the successful piloting and implementation of the test kits in Sierra Leone, there were major challenges confronting the fight against the HIV Virus in the country. She highlighted the lack of HIV testing kits at all ANC sites, low PMTCT coverage, high vertical transmission rate, and lack of the necessary funds to increase the use of the kits nationally as key barriers to the fight in getting rid of the disease in the country. The leadership of the OAFLA commended Mrs. Koroma for her brilliant presentation, her dedication and commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone, especially her focus on pregnant women and new born babies. She was also praised for her level of accountability and transparency in the process. The President of Alere Healthcare – Africa, Mr. Tom Lindsay commended H.E Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma for a job well done in the fight to eliminate the HIV/AIDS virus in Sierra Leone. He said he was particularly impressed with the astute leadership of Mrs. Koroma and her high level of accountability of donor resources. Mr. Lindsay stated that his institution was extremely pleased with the feedback and report on the use of the Four Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits provided to the office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone. Mr. Lindsay made a surprised announcement of an additional donation of Ten Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits to the office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone as a show confidence and appreciation for what he described as ‘’the fabulous work of First Lady Koroma’’. He further accepted the invitation by Mrs. Sia Koroma to visit Sierra Leone and promised to be in Freetown by March, 2016 in order to support the First Lady in her priority areas relating to capacity building through NGO’s , youth and adolescence programmes and public private partnership projects for the country.

B1In a bid to eradicate the dreadful Hiv/Aids virus in Sierra Leone in line with Africa's common position of ending the disease on the continent by 2030; Her Excellency the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma has secured a major boost to halt the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone at the just concluded Africa's First Ladies Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addressing the 16th Ordinary Session of the General Assembly of the Oganisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs. Koroma stated that she was extremely happy to report that Sierra Leone has defeated the Ebola Virus Disease which was also a major threat to the fight against Hiv/Aids in the country.

 

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Sierra Leone’s First Lady joins 7 other First Ladies in launching the OAFLA ‘All-In’ Campaign to Stem Adolescent HIV/AIDS in Accra, Ghana
OAFLAH.E. Sia Nyama Koroma responded to the invitation of her colleague and sister, H.E. Dr. Nana Dramani Mahawa, First Lady of the Republic who is the current President of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) by attending the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual and Health Rights, 9-10 February, 2016. H.E. the First also participated actively in the launching of OAFLA's 'All-In- Campaign Against Adolescent HIV/AIDS on 11th February, 2016. 8 First Ladies from Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Mali and Sierra Leone were in attendance and First Ladies from the Burkina Faso, Gambia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Swaziland sent representatives.
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