Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, held on Thursday (July 17) discussions with a delegation of IGAD Project Management Unit, headed by Ms Fathia Alwan, Program Manager for Health and Development. Discussions focused on how to make IGAD’s first ever scientific conference on health a success. Ambassador Berhane underlined that the planned scientific Conference with emphasis on refugees, pastoralists and cross-border mobile population would be instrumental to the IGAD Member States efforts to build a healthy community. He also highlighted the importance such conferences to fill gap in the field of health related matters in the region through such kind of scientific conference to strengthen political commitment through sustained cooperation. He also noted that a mutually cooperative partnership in the fields of health, education, and economy is a centrepiece of Ethiopia’s development policies. He said Ethiopia being a host to the First IGAD International Scientific Conference on Health which will be held from 3-6 December 2014 in Addis Ababa; he assured that all relevant institutions would extend assistance to and proactively participate in the Conference. Noting that conflict was the ultimate manifestation of al the social, economic and political ills, he suggested, the region must address issues of development and poverty. He pledged that Ethiopia would foster greater ties with the IGAD, Member States and development partners in order to better improve the lives and livelihoods of pastoralists, cross-border and mobile populations. Ms Fathia Alwan, Program Manager for Health and Development, detailed that the Conference would become a milestone for robust partnership, research based decision-making, increased resource mobilization and greater political commitment to expedite the health and social development initiatives focusing on pastoralists, cross-border and mobile populations to a new high. She also added that the Conference would provide innovative approaches for equitable access to ART and other HIV and AIDS medical services among pastoralists, cross-border and mobile populations. She further stated that the Conference would provide an opportunity for member States to share best experiences on IGAD health and social programs in relation to pastoralists, cross-border and mobile populations. She also extended her appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for offering to host the conference.