Published on September 22, 2010 by Cocorioko News · No Comments
By Leeroy Wilfred Kabs -Kanu:
On the third day of his stay in New York, where he arrived on Sunday to attend the ongoing 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Ernest Bai Koroma was today interviewed by the Cable News Network (CNN) before he addressed the United Nations General Assembly High -Level Plenary on the Millenium Development Goals ( MDGs) .
The CNN Interview was set up by FIRST STEP , an organization that has set the stage to build a canned fruits factory in Sierra Leone, in partnership with WORLD HOPE, who would be training employees for the factory,which will need 900 farmers just to process mangoes (We will bring more details on these organizations ). Readers must stay tuned for announcement of the day the interview will be aired by CNN.
PRESIDENT KOROMA BEING INTERVIEWED BY CNN YESTERDAY
PRESIDENT KOROMA POSES WITH TWO EXECUTIVES OF FIRST STEP
THE CNN REPORTER WHO INTERVIEWED PRESIDENT KOROMA ACCOMPANYING THE HEAD Of STATE TO THE ELEVATORS
From the First Stop Headquarters, President Koroma and party went to the UN General Assembly where he addressed the High-Level Summit on the MDGs.
PRESIDENT KOROMA LEAVING THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY AFTER HIS ADDRESS
Below is the statement delivered today at the Summit by President Koroma :
PRESIDENT KOROMA POSES WITH AMBASSADOR SHEKOU TOURE AFTER HIS ADDRESS
Excellencies, Heads of State and Governments,
Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, Honorary Chairman of the MDG Awards Committee,
Distinguished Recipients of the 2010 MDG Awards,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
PRESIDENT KOROMA POSES WITH SOME MEMBERS OF HIS DELEGATION AFTER THE SUMMIT
It is indeed a pleasure and singular honour for me, in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to represent my President, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, who, but for other pressing State matters of equally counterveiling expediency, would have been here this evening receiving this noble award on behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone.
PRESIDENT KOROMA ( RIGHT ) HAS A CHANCE MEETING WITH RWANDAN PRESIDENT KAGAME AFTER HIS ADDRESS
I wish to thank the MDG Awards Committee for organizing this historic event. We are elated by this distinct honour and recognition and wish to assure this august gathering of our continued commitment to the goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
To many, when the Millennium Development Goals were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000, attaining such a remarkable progress on Goal 6, which has earned us the accolade we are all celebrating this evening would have appeared too ambitious, particularly when our continent has borne and still continues to bear the heaviest burden of this monstrous disease. However, Sierra Leone has been able to achieve this milestone because of the different approaches we adopted and the support we received from our development partners. For want of time, I will just summarize some of the measures we took for the benefit of listeners and our friends the world over.
First and foremost, we were quick to come to the realization that the pandemic was without doubt a major obstacle to the socio-economic development of a nation and that to effectively combat it requires political involvement at the highest level. The role of H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as Chairman of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) was therefore a move in the right direction.
Secondly, we recognized the fact that the disease is a cross-sectoral development challenge and that to combat it effectively warrants a comprehensive, coordinated, integrated and sustained action by all stakeholders including People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and civil society organizations. In that respect, we took measures to ensure that the right atmosphere was provided for them to engage constructively at both national and regional levels. Moreover, this partnership was bolstered by the inspiring guidance of H.E. President Koroma as Chairman of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) and a dedicated Director in the person of Dr. Brima Kargbo. Key achievements made as a result of this partnership are:
1. Stabilization of the national prevalence, which also led to a decline in the prevalence among pregnant women;
2. Increase in the uptake of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission;
3. Increase in Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing sites;
4. A 100 % increase in blood screening for HIV;
5. Considerable increase in access and distribution of condoms;
6. Increase in the dissemination of HIV/AIDS behavior change messages;
7. Increased in the number of people treated for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs);
8. Increase in nutritional support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC);
9. Increase in Anti-Retroviral Therapies (ARTs) and the number of treatment Centers;
10. Mobilization of support from the Global Fund to strengthen our HIV/AIDS Health System.
In addition to partnership with stakeholders, we remained committed to increasing the involvement and representation of People Living with HIV. In that respect, an organization known as Network of HIV Positive People in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS) was established and its Secretariat launched in 2008 by the First Lady of Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Mrs. Sia Koroma. Her continued support and commitment, particularly as member of the Organization of African First Ladies Against AIDS (OAFLA) and the Steering Committee for West and Central Africa also added a lot of value to our national response to combating the disease.
The relevance of strategic planning in combating such an epidemic cannot be overemphasized. We made sure that all our HIV programmes were properly coordinated, planned, monitored and evaluated on a regularly basis. In order to strengthen our HIV response and its systems, we allowed for an independent institutional review of our entire working mechanisms and systems, the recommendations of which guided us in the scaling up of our response towards attaining both national and global targets. Additionally, the NAS was mandated to sign a performance contract with H.E. Excellency the President to ensure yearly targets were being met.
Shortly put, Mr. Chairman, we owe this great achievement to the high political commitment demonstrated by the government and to resource mobilization through partnership with all stakeholders including PLHIV and the civil society.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies Heads of State and Government, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
For most, if not all of our countries in Africa, and indeed for a post-conflict country like Sierra Leone, continued progress in the fight against the HIV epidemic is crucial for the attainment of the other inextricably interrelated MDGs including, poverty eradication, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women, reducing child mortality as well as developing global partnership for development; particularly when H.E. President Koroma’s administration had made poverty alleviation and the improvement of the health and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone the flagship of its national development agenda.
To all of us recipients of various Awards this evening, I say bravo for a job well done and to conclude on this note of caution that there is now need, more than ever before, for us all to build on the rapid gains we have achieved thus far. We cannot afford to be complacent as it will reverse all the gains we have tirelessly worked for all these years. For us in Sierra Leone, we will continue to advance and scale up our national efforts towards achieving the MDG goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015.
I thank you for your attention.
Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu
Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN
245 E 49th Street, New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212 ) 688 – 1656 Ext. 18