Zimbabwe ready to host ICASA

Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora told journalists on Wednesday in Harare that it was all systems go as the country braces up for the conference.

Zimbabwe has put everything in place to host the 22nd edition of International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA) from December 4 to 9.

The conference, which is running under the theme Aids, is not over: Address inequalities, accelerate inclusion and innovation, will be held at the Harare International Conference Centre.

ICASA is a biennial conference organised by the Society for Aids in Africa (SAA), which brings together thousands of participants from across the globe to discuss the latest research, policies, and developments related to HIV and Aids as well as STIs in Africa.

The conference provides a platform for researchers, healthcare professionals, activists, policymakers and advocates sharing their experiences and expertise, and to network and collaborate on efforts to combat the HIV and Aids epidemic as well as strengthen the health systems in Africa.

Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora told journalists on Wednesday in Harare that it was all systems go as the country braces up for the conference.

“We have continued to work hard as a country to ensure that all delegates attending the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa enjoy their visit to Zimbabwe, and experience a unique package of business and tourism,” he said.

“All our systems from security, banking, accommodation, transportation, health and others have been checked and tested and I want to assure our visitors that Zimbabwe is ready.

“The security of delegates is guaranteed both in Harare and elsewhere as they go about attending the conference and enjoying our rich heritage across the world acclaimed tourist destinations.

“We have also strengthened the health delivery and surveillance systems to ensure that our visitors and locals have access to needed health services.

“We have managed to adequately deal with the isolated outbreaks of cholera that were reported some months ago.

“Let me emphasise that our surveillance system is exceptionally effective and has picked all cases, which have all since been treated.”

Mombeshora said the conference will kick off with a high level meeting in Victoria Falls on December 2 before shifting to Harare two days later.

“We will have a meeting of the African first ladies to be hosted by our first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa,” he said.

“This meeting will focus on addressing prevention of mother-to-child transmission and elimination of new born infections in Africa.

"On the same day African ministers of Finance will focus on addressing domestic financing of the HIV response, the reach the UN 2025 Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.”

The Health minister said Zimbabwe has been praised globally for its home-grown domestic funding initiative in the form of the National Aids Trust Fund, popularly known as the Aids Levy.

He said it would be a hive of activity in the run up to ICASA.

“These two meetings in Victoria Falls will come just a day after Zimbabwe will have commemorated the World Aids Day, which we will do at Chinotimba Stadium,” Mombeshora said.

“ICASA delegates who will already be in the country and are able to finance their trips to Victoria Falls are invited to attend the World Aids Day commemorations under the theme Let communities lead.

“Delegates are advised to finalise their accommodation arrangements before leaving their countries to avoid challenges.

“It is very important for our visitors who require visas before travelling to apply for their visas on time.

“Those who need visas on arrival are also encouraged to ensure that they obtain letters from the government of Zimbabwe assuring them that they will be granted visas on arrival.”

SAA permanent secretariat coordinator and ICASA director Luc Armand Bodea said Zimbabwe was now ready to host the conference.

“I can confirm that Zimbabwe is ready to host the 22nd edition of ICASA,” Bodea said.

“So far, 3 000 delegates have confirmed their participation out of the 8 000 expected.

“Generally in Africa our delegates confirm on the last minute.”

Bodea said there would be 245 sessions and 735 speakers during the course of the conference.

ICASA 2023 scientific programmes chairperson Mike Chirenje said all abstracts on HIV presented by researchers had been grouped and the six would be rewarded.

“Among the best abstracts, three are by Zimbabweans,” he said.

“This, therefore, means that the three Zimbabweans would receive awards for the best scientific abstracts on HIV prevention and treatment.”

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