First Lady Margret Kenyatta discussed initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS with Prince Harry and Sir Elton John at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The Duke of Sussex and the rock music icon launched a $1.2 billion initiative – the MenStar Coalition – to fight HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
MenStar Coalition is aimed at breaking the HIV transmission cycle in men through testing and treatment, its target being to eliminate the epidemic by 2030.
Seven groups fighting to eradicate HIV/AIDS have come together for this coalition. They include the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gilead and the US government’s PEPFAR programme.
The coalition’s first task will be to encourage young men in Kenya to self-test in a campaign dubbed ‘Chukua Selfie’.
Harry and John are campaigners against HIV/AIDS who have been part of various global interventions.
The First Lady’s talks with them focused on her commitment to the welfare of women and the girl child through her Beyond Zero campaign. John was particularly interested in the initiative’s achievements.
Before her meetings with the two, Margaret sat through one of the plenary sessions at the Rai International Convention Centre AIDS 2018 conference.
After the lengthy, separate talks, the First Lady invited the Prince and John to visit Kenya.
Margaret also held extensive talks with Princess Mabel Van Oranje of Netherlands on collaborations between her ‘Girls Not Brides’ global partnership and the Beyond Zero initiative.
They focused on reproductive health including child bride marriages, early pregnancies, gender violence, HIV/AIDS and how these issues affect the education and development of the girl child.
The First Lady used a short video-clip to demonstrate the successes of the five-year Beyond Zero drive and the delivery of health services to millions of Kenyans in hard-to-reach parts of the country, using fully kitted mobile clinics as enablers.
Beyond Zero’s mandate was initially HIV/AIDS control and the promotion of maternal, new born and child health. With time and the delivery of a mobile clinic to all 47 counties, the mandate expanded to cover a wider spectrum of health services.
Princess Mabel said there were many similarities between the work of Beyond Zero and her ‘Girls Not Brides’ Partnership, hence the need for closer collaboration.
‘Girls Not Brides’ is a global partnership of more than 1000 civil society organisations, from over 97 countries, committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential.
Its members are based throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Three organizations from Kenya are members of the Partnership.
During the discussion, the Princess proposed a global movement of all organisations working for women and the girl child to bring global attention to their issues.
“Let’s create a strong global movement and through collaboration with change makers mobilise resources and compare lessons in various countries,” she said.
The Dutch Princess talked glowingly about Kenya’s practical approach to health issues and proposed that the country be the launch-pad for the global movement.
“Kenya is known for its practical approaches to many issues. Kenya should be the exemplary case for the global movement,” she said of the proposal that the First Lady termed a “fantastic idea”.