FIRST Lady Christine Kaseba has called for integration of sexual reproductive health issues and cancer into the fight against HIV and AIDS if the fight is to achieve the desired results.
Dr Kaseba said this in a speech she delivered during the official opening of the 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) as a special guest to the conference taking place in Cape Town.
She said while a lot of progress had been achieved in Africa in fighting the HIV pandemic, a lot still had to be done.
The First Lady said HIV treatment and sexual reproductive health should be integrated in the programmes.
“Breast cancer is another evil which should be fought, otherwise our women will be wiped out, especially with the advent of HIV and AIDS. Apart from that we need to step up access to sexual reproductive health,” she said.
Dr Kaseba said it was estimated that 474, 000 women would die from cancer per year by 2030 and that the majority of these would be in sub-Sahara Africa.
She noted that Africa could not manage to tackle a cancer epidemic, hence, the need to ensure that it was tackled together with HIV.
She said Zambia was already working hard to roll out cancer programmes on women with more than 400, 000 so far having been screened.
Dr Kaseba said the probability of an HIV-free society was within reach.
She said more investments should be directed towards sexual reproductive health rights as that would help reduce poverty and gender inequalities.
The First Lady extolled the late South African President Nelson Mandela for his resolve in fighting HIV and AIDS from the time he was President until he left the office.
At the same occasion, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe called on participants to ensure that they covered as many topics as possible to benefit Africa.
United Nations AIDS executive director Michel Sidibe urged African countries to also start producing ARVs as more people were yet to be put on the life-prolonging drugs.
He said in line with the theme, ‘Now More Than Ever – Zero’, it was important to target zero infections and eventually achieve an HIV/AIDS-free society by the year 2030.
Education Minister John Phiri and his counterpart for Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Nkandu Luo are among delegates from Zambia attending the conference which will end on Wednesday.