By Muluken Yewondwossen
In Capital Newspaper, Tuesday, 22 November 2011, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian government says it is completely prepared for the largest conference the country has ever hosted in terms of the numbers of participants.
The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) will be held from December 4 to 8 in Addis Ababa and 10,000 people are expected to come from all over the world.
The country has organized various international events before but numbers are usually closer to three thousand. As a result Ethiopia is very excited about the event to show the world its hospitality and capability to host huge international events.
On Thursday November 17, the organization committee led by Dr. Tewodros Adhanom, Minister of Health, held a press conference about the program and preparation for the event.
The organizers said that they have solved most issues. One of the major challenges is the standard of accommodations.
“We have assessed over 10,800 high and good quality rooms in and round Addis Ababa that will give service to people from all over the world. So in terms of places to stay, we have no problem,” the minister said.
According to the organizers, as of Thursday November 17 about 4,200 participants confirmed their attendance. However, registration has not been completed as yet.
According to Dr. Tewodros, works is being undertaken to transform the Millennium Hall, where the conference is scheduled to take place, into a high-tech conference centre that can accommodate up to 35,000 people at a time.
According to the organizers, five heads of state and various ministers will participate in the international conference. Sessions will include presentation of research and other scientific studies.
There are about 33.3 million people living with HIV across the globe, the minister said, adding that 68 percent are in Africa. In 33 countries, the incidence has fallen by more than 25% between 2001 and 2009, of these countries 22 are in sub-Saharan Africa
The ICASA 2011 conference hopes to mobilize leaders, communities and partners to take ownership and respond even more to HIV. The exchange of experience and best practices around the globe will be a step forward in addressing many of the medical eruditions that hinder the health of Africans. These include HIV, AIDS, STIs, TB and malaria.