ICASA Preparations In Final Lap

ICASA Preparations In Final Lap

Stakeholders to the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), gathered in Harare, Zimbabwe, for the last planning meeting, also dubbed the Marathon meeting, to discuss and plan around the state of preparedness ahead of the conference to be held in Harare.

The ICASA conference will be held from December 4 to 9, 2023, at the Rainbow Towers Hotel and is set to attract not less than 8,000 delegates from across the continent and beyond.

Speaking during the meeting’s official ceremony, Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said Zimbabwe was ready for ICASA.

This meeting is happening three months before our hosting Africa’s biggest bi-lingual and bi-annual conference. This is a great honour indeed and I want to emphasize that we are more than ready to welcome you to our beautiful country,” said Dr Momebshora.

Zimbabwe is hosting the ICASA for the second time in 10 years after having successfully hosted the conference at the same venue in 2015.

“This is testimony to our capacity and ability to make the conference a success. The people of Zimbabwe are excited and eagerly waiting to host the ICASA in December. I have been advised that this is the third and final meeting before the conference and significant progress has been made in crafting an exciting five-day programme as well as other pre-conference high-level meetings.”

Dr Mombeshora also took time to honour the Vice President of Zimbabwe and former Health and Child Care Minister, Retired General Constantino Chiwenga for having led the team that successfully won the bid to host the ICASA in Zimbabwe.

Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) president and ChairDr. David Parienyatwa said there needs to be continuous innovation to end AIDS in Africa and the ICASA conference was an opportunity to showcase and deliberate on some of the positive developments Africa has made.

“We anticipate an upward to 8,000 delegates and we are very ready to host the ICASA. However, to be ready. ICASA is key in fighting HIV in the African region. We are sort of the Pan-Africanists in terms of HIV and AIDS. We also address TB, Malaria and other infectious diseases including COVID-19, Ebola and other emerging emergencies. This marathon meeting is going to finalise what we will see in December.”

The Marathon meeting was attended by not less than 170 delegates both physically and virtually. The first meeting was held in Victoria Falls in 2022 while the second was held this year in the first quarter.

Dr Luc Armand Bodea, the ICASA Chairperson said the number of applications that have shown interest in attending the conference in person is greater than those who intend to attend virtually.

“So far, the numbers show that people really want to be in person and we are planning logistically with Zimbabwe to ensure we can take care of all the delegates who are attending in person in this country,” said Bodea.

The previous ICASA was held in Durban South Africa during the COVID-19 period in 2021. Most delegates attended virtually following the discovery of the Omicron a few days before the ICASA kicked off.

Meanwhile, National AIDS Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bernard Madzima said, “It’s almost like 75 days going into the ICASA 2023. It is also important to note that we are having high-level meetings on the Second of December. The first one will be the First Ladies conference where they will be discussing HIV in Children then the second meeting will be of Ministers of Health where they be discussing domestic financing. We are having this marathon event because as you can see we don’t have time on our hands,” said Dr Madzima.

Story by: Michael Gwarisa, Health Times

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