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These were the words of First Lady Monica Geingos during the launch of the 'Be Free' campaign in the Oshana region at Ongwediva on yesterday. “When you lack a strong sense of who you are, you are susceptible to being manipulated into anything,” she warned. She explained the different standards that apply to boys and girls in society today, and asked why it was not “cool” for a girl to engage in sexual activity with multiple boys, but “cool” for a boy to have multiple sexual partners. Geingos emphasised the importance of knowing one's identity, and respecting where they are from and how they were raised. She also urged parents to teach their children to be confident and to identify what was acceptable and what was not to avoid peer pressure and a lack of self-confidence. “While you are learning and figuring out your identity and where you come from, also never think your culture is superior to others.” She also insisted that parents nurture their children from a young age so as to create a bond with them, and to guide them through life. “The issue of parental supervision is very important because how one was raised and brought up says a lot about them,” Geingos said. The First Lady also cautioned the youth to be careful of how they use social media. “One must always portray who you are, and how you want people to look at you,” she advised. The First Lady's speech was preceded by a debate about who was more affected by teenage pregnancy, followed by a panel discussion on general life skills affecting the youth. 'Be Free' is an initiative of the Office of the First Lady in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in an effort to educate young minds.

First Lady Jeannette Kagame delivers her opening remarks during the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) Conference which was held for the first time in Rwanda The First Lady Jeannette Kagame has requested health officials, researchers and key players in health sector to sustain awareness campaign against cancer to make Africa a cancer free continent. She was the guest of honor at the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) Conference held today in Kigali. The conference attracted multidisciplinary specialists from the global cancer community to reduce the impact of cancer in Africa. Participants included; medical oncologists, nurses, clinicians and policy makers in public health. “A third of cancer cases can be prevented. As global citizens,we have the duty to put in place effective and sustainable systems of prevention,” she said. “As a continent, we can ease pressure by raising public awareness, developing preventative programs accessed and understood by all.” The First Lady said that there is need to pledge to never stop educating the importance of healthy lifestyles, including regular medical checkups. She said that there will be more chances to win the fight against cancer if they promote the need for well-trained, skilled and dedicated workforce. “It is important for Rwanda and Africa to continue educating its population about the fight against cancer.”

First Lady Jeannette Kagame joins Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Diane Gashumba, among other participants for the 11th AORTIC Conference

In Rwanda, like many other nations whose population have access to cancer screening, incidences of cancer diagnosis are becoming known. For example, men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, children with leukemia and kidney cancer while women battle breast and cervical cancer. While this may not be enough, however, the First Lady Jeannette Kagame told participants, “The fight against cancer diseases calls for diversity of partnerships and collaboration. Advocacy and mobilizing public-private support for this cause requires strengthening along the cancer continuum.” This fight against cancer also “forces us to take an honest look on what is still needed.”

President of AORTIC Professor Jean-Marie Kabongo Mpolesha during the first day of the conference

The First Lady called upon participants to answer a couple of questions in relation to the cancer context. “Are we creating structures needed to encourage a rise of new and young African scientists who will be drawn to this specific field?” “Are we effectively building capacity in our countries to help our scientists become solution-driven in the face of key health challenges?” “Are we creating the right incentives or environment that encourages research that assess all ways through which we can prevent cancer?” Meanwhile, Rwanda is making strides towards cancer treatment. Starting next year, the radiotherapy center under construction at Rwanda Military Hospital will provide patients with a link to comprehensive cancer care. The facility will save several Rwandans from spending millions while seeking treatment outside the country especially India. It costs patients between $8,000 and $12,000 to seek treatment abroad. This year’s AORTIC 2017 International Cancer conference is organised under the theme: “Cancer in Africa: Making Strides, Creating Solutions.”

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Diane Gashumba delivers her keynote address during the AORTIC Conference

 Participants of the AORTIC Conference were treated to a traditional dance before the conference officially opened

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Dr Liu Xianfa have called for enhanced co-operation between China and the Beyond Zero initiative.

The envoy said the people of China are particularly impressed with the work of the First Lady in health matters and her efforts in uplifting vulnerable communities in the country.

He said his government is keen for continued support of Beyond Zero initiative especially over the proposed Sh2.2 billion State-of-the Art referral hospital for women and children.

The envoy talked of China’s investment in offering bursaries to Kenyan students and recalled the story of Dr Mwamaka Sharifu from Lamu who was rescued from her disadvantaged background some years ago and offered a full scholarship to study traditional Chinese medicine.

Although from mixed Chinese and Kenyan ancestry, Dr Sharifu now wants to return to Lamu and work with local communities.

The meeting between the Ambassador and the First Lady comes ahead the May 14-16 Belt and Roads Forum for International Cooperation Conference in Beijing to be attended by more than 28 heads of Government and States among them, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Visit hospitals

During the conference, the the First Lady will visit various institutions including the Beijing Women and Childrens Hospital for shared insights that could be incorporated in the proposed referral Beyond Zero hospital in Kenya.

Margaret and the envoy also discussed the inspiring story of some Kenyan women who are expected to drive the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) trains after completing their courses in China.

The women are part of a group of Kenyan students the China Road and Bridges Corporation, the SGR contractor, sponsored to undertake a railway course at China’s Baoji Railway Training College.

Others in the delegation included the envoy’s spouse Madam Li Ping, the Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy  Li Xuhang and  the Chief of the Political Section Niu Xiaoqiang and his Deputy  Liu Ying.

The First Lady launched the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ to improve maternal and child health outcomes in the country.

The initiative also aims to accelerate the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.

So far, all the 47 counties have received mobile clinics courtesy of the initiative with the Nairobi being the last county to receive.  While handing over the Nairobi clinic, the First Lady said it marks the end of Beyond Zero’s first phase, adding that the second phase will entail the construction of the proposed Sh2.2 billion referral hospital.


The First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E Madam Roman Tesfaye was elected President of OAFLA for the period 2017-2019 at the 19th OAFLA General Assembly held in Addis Ababa, on July 04, 2017. She was elected from among the newly elected Steering Committee which comprises of First Ladies of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

Geingos made the call last week when she spoke at Windhoek Central Hospital during the visit of former US president George W Bush and his wife Laura. The Bushes were in the country on a two-day visit which ended on Wednesday.

The purpose of the Bushes' visit was to celebrate progress made in the fight against HIV-AIDS under the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar), UNAIDS, Susan G Komen and the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon initiative of the Bush Institute, which was launched in 2011.

According to Geingos, a lot of assistance has been provided by international organisations such as UNAIDS, the Global Fund, Pepfar, and others, but there has not been much involvement from the local private sector.

“Private partnership is missing [...], there is no more space for silence. Domestically, all institutions here need to get along, they need to make a difference,” she said.

Head of oncology at the hospital, Anel Zietsman said at the same occasion that cancer cases amongst women were on the rise, and were predicted to increase by 70% over the next decade.

She said in Namibia, most women with cancer died of breast cancer, followed by cervical cancer, adding that deaths could be prevented if there were more treatment facilities in the country.

“There are only two cancer treatment facilities, a private one and a public one. We need more facilities for the entire country,” Zietsman said.

According to a fact sheet by the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon organisation which fights cancer, many HIV positive women are vulnerable to the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which leads to cancer.

However, chances of developing cancer, according to the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon body, could be reduced by up to 90% through vaccination against HPV.

Also speaking at the event, health minister Bernard Haufiku said concerning treatment, some of the obstacles faced, especially across rural Namibia, was that people were still bound by culture, poverty and dependency, and only ended up seeking treatment when their illness was already at an advanced stage.

Bush praised Namibia's efforts in fighting HIV-AIDS and cancer amongst women, and called on the new US administration to continue supporting Pepfar's activities.