(IGAD – Addis Ababa) The Steering Committee meeting of The IGAD Regional HIV and AIDS Partnership Program (IRAPP) started in Addis Ababa. At their kick-off meeting Monday, participants from IGAD Member States deliberated policy and program direction for IRAPP.

The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Eng. Mahboub Maalim, who called the meeting to order, informed participants that Ethiopia was the Chair and Kenya the rapporteur.

Present in the meeting were - Representatives of the Member States of Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia. The delegates were representatives of Ministries of Health (MoH) and National AIDS Commissions (NAC) of IGAD; Representatives from Development Partners including, UNHCR, IGAD and PFO.

The IGAD Regional HIV & AIDS Partnership Program (IRAPP) was launched in January 2008, with a fiscal year that runs from January 1st to December 31st. The conclusion of the first fiscal year of activities represents an important moment for IRAPP, having shown the tenacity to overcome many of the start-up hurdles. Despite some overall delay in many activities due to unforeseen circumstances, most of the activities that were approved by the Ministerial Committee on Health and HIV/AIDS during the launch have been achieved.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary said, “These achievements have been appraised by the technical working group meetings in the last two weeks and the recommendations will be placed before you for consideration.”

The Ministerial meeting for IRAPP Ministers of Health and HIV and AIDS will follow soon in Addis Ababa.