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African First Ladies Discuss Healthcare, Poverty At Summit

The African First Ladies’ Health Summit is underway in Los Angeles, California. It will wrap up tomorrow. The summit has brought together first ladies from a number of African countries to address healthcare and girls’ education.

It was organized by two non-profit groups, the US doctors for Africa and Africa synergy against aids and suffering. The latter was formed by 22 African first ladies in 2002 in Yaoundé Cameroon to fight against HIV/AIDS and other social challenges the Africa continent faces.

Jean Stephane Biatcha is the executive secretary of the Yaoundé-based Africa synergy against aids and suffering. From Los Angeles he told

VOA’s Douglas Mpuga that the summit whose theme is leadership for health is focusing on the role of the first ladies in assisting their governments in the fight against all the problems concerning health and poverty.

He said the summit is well attended with first ladies who couldn’t attend sending high powered delegation. “Almost 23 African countries are represented,” he noted.

“It is not closed to the public. It’s because there are a lot of people who wanted to attend but we could only cater for so many given the capacity of the premises we have”, he said in response to concerns that the summit was private and closed to the public.

Biatcha said this was the first the summit is being held in the United States. “It’s an implementation of an agreement we signed with the US doctors for Africa in July last year for first ladies to raise awareness in the United States”

The Executive Secretary pointed out that most of the work of Africa first ladies is based on advocacy and sensitization. “The event in Los Angeles provides an opportunity for doing exactly that”. The first ladies also play an important role in their home countries where they support the national political strategies, especially in the areas of health and social action”.

He hailed their (first ladies) role in social activities and their contribution to the improvement of health and social wellbeing through sensitization campaigns.

US doctors for Africa delivers teams of healthcare professionals to resource-poor regions in Africa providing medical care, strategic planning, education, training, and other health-related services.