HOSTING of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) is set to create social, economic and political benefits as well as improve Zimbabwe’s image.
Zimbabwe will host the 22nd edition of Icasa next year from December 4 to 9 in Harare.
The conference, which is expected to draw 12 000 delegates, will run under the theme AIDS is not over: Address inequalities, accelerate innovation and inclusion.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the first Icasa 2023 international steering committee meeting in Victoria Falls on Friday, Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) president David Parirenyatwa said hosting the Aids conference would help the country reap huge benefits.
“Hosting Icasa brings with it benefits. There are economic benefits where the hospitality industry would benefit immensely through the provision of accommodation. These delegates would also be buying from the shops in Zimbabwe and these are huge benefits for the business community.
“Icasa is a platform for the academia and draws the professors and researchers who would come and participate; sharing what would have come out of Icasa among their academic circles,” Parirenyatwa said.
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Parirenyatwa, who is also the Icasa 2023 president, said hosting the Aids conference breaks barriers in increasing the country’s visibility thereby advancing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s concern about engagement and re-engagement.
The former Health minister said the maiden international steering committee meeting was among several planning meetings that SAA would hold ahead of Icasa 2023.
“Icasa is critical to us and we don’t plan we would have challenges. We need to meticulously plan and that’s why we are here with stakeholders coming from all over the world.
“We have upwards of 10 000 to 12 000 people expected to come so it needs to be done properly. We are looking at three programmes, thus HIV, STIs and non-communicable diseases,” Parirenyatwa said.
Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro said the government was fully behind the hosting of Icasa 2023.
“The government supports the hosting of Icasa 2023 to the hilt, financially and morally. Representation and presentation have been at a high level, including the witnessing of the signing of the memorandum of understanding by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the minister of Health and Child Care.
“We urge Icasa to come up with its solutions to deal with HIV and STIs, among other diseases. We want to see Icasa produce research work on drugs and diseases and be innovative. Home-grown solutions are needed to end Aids by 2030,” Mangwiro said.
Luc Armand Bodea, who is SAA director, said the Aids conference is coming at an opportune time when new HIV infections are emerging.
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