LUSAKA, Zambia–The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Zambia has donated one hundred thousand sanitary pads to the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust (a brainchild of Her Excellency, The First Lady of Zambia – Madam Esther Lungu). The donation, which is part of AHF’s one million pad initiative for Africa, happened at a ceremony hosted by Her Excellency at the State House in Lusaka yesterday.
According to a UNESCO report, 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual periods, which is about 20% of a given school year, and so many more drop out of school completely once they start menstruating due to lack of sanitary pads and menstrual health services.
These dire statistics spurred AHF to roll out its One Million-Pad Initiative at the just concluded International Day of the Girl Child commemoration (observed October 11th) in order to help keep girls in school and reduce their risk of contracting HIV.
“At the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, we believe in giving every child every means necessary to live up to their greatest potential. Every child should be celebrated, and being a woman should never be treated as an impediment. Girls will shape the world of tomorrow and we all have the obligation to give them the confidence to succeed in building a better world,” said Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
In his address, Dr. Mabvuto Kango, AHF Zambia Country Director, explained the reason for the donation – “AHF decided to intervene for three reasons:
– Providing the girl child with basic needs such as sanitary pads reduces their chances of going to ask for such commodities from persons who could take advantage of them.
– It would help improve their performance in class; leading them to become educated and self-reliant.
– To support Zambia’s government new policy of providing sanitary pads to school girls.”
“This one hundred thousand (100,000) sanitary pads donation to the Esther Lungu Foundation, is in addition to the fifty thousand (50,000) we donated last month, and we trust that the foundation will use its vast network and ability to reach the vulnerable girls, especially those in hard-to-reach areas,” he added.
Receiving the donation from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Her Excellency, Madam Esther Lungu expressed deep respect for AHF’s work in the country over the past ten years.
“I have noted with admiration the different work you are doing such as HIV Counselling and Testing, especially the door-to-door testing, inclusion of notable change agents such as our own BFlow in your prevention activities, and training of community volunteers. I am excited that some of your achievements recorded till date include treatment of over 65,585 clients on ART and HIV testing of over one million five hundred people,” she stated.
She also commended AHF’s response to address issues that affect the girl child globally, underscoring a similarity of vision with her foundation’s commitment to empower young women and girls.
“The issue of sanitary towels as one of the barriers to girls completing their education and a key driver to HIV infection for this population is real. It is for this reason that the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust in its current and future deliverables, included the commitment to facilitate for the provision of sanitary towels for rural girls,” she explained.
“It is gratifying that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has risen to the challenge to partner with my organization in this program. Your generous support through the donation of one hundred thousand sanitary towels will go a long way towards the elimination of HIV transmission and also reduce girls' absenteeism from school,” she enthused.
This year, AHF Zambia is commemorating its 10-year milestone of providing free HIV/AIDS services and lifesaving treatment in Zambia.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 819,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.
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