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In L.A., first ladies of Africa discuss health issues

April 20, 2009 | 11:54 am

Fifteen first ladies from Africa convened today at Skirball Cultural Center, where they met with various countries’ delegations, companies and organizations to discuss health issues and professional leadership development.

The two-day Leadership for Health summit was organized by the Los Angeles-based US Doctors for Africa and African Synergy, a nonprofit formed by 22 first ladies from Africa. The purpose of the closed sessions was to brainstorm how the first ladies could build alliances to improve their respective countries’ efforts in addressing issues such as maternal health, girls' education and HIV/AIDS.

"Empowering Africa's first ladies is an innovative approach to bettering the lives of millions of Africans," USDFA Chairman Ted Alemayhu said in a statement. "The summit will pair these leaders with U.S. experts, key political figures and important organizations to create ongoing partnerships."

The invitation-only conference continues Tuesday and will include a fundraiser, a celebrity-studded gala with a performance by Natalie Cole and a luncheon hosted by California's first lady, Maria Shriver.

-- Corina Knoll