Rwanda’s First Lady is confident that the fight against HIV/AIDS can be won through a network of functioning global partnerships.
Mrs. Jeannette Kagame made the remarks at the Resource Mobilization Event held on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, US.
This event was held under the theme “Free to Shine: Global partnership towards eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Africa”.
She said the gatherings enabled reflection on collective responsibilities of both public and private sectors, to further invest in human capital, and the building of well-crafted systems, to help respond to some of the biggest threats, affecting our sustainable development.
The First Lady shared with the delegates Rwanda’s journey in the fight against AIDS epidemic.
“Our desire to fight the AIDS epidemic drove us to call on all stakeholders, to come to the table, so that together, we could pull all our resources to fund initiatives, aimed at ending AIDS by 2030,” she said.
In her presentation to the delegates, she said back in Rwanda, the concerted efforts, and active involvement of communities, “we lowered the HIV prevalence rate from about 10% in the early 2000’s, to below 3% nationwide, today.”
However, the First Lady said that despite the commendable fall in prevalence statistics, she wants her country to further lower the 3% prevalence by developing more innovative financing mechanisms, to further strengthen country’s health systems.
“Our ambitious goal of eliminating HIV/AIDS by the year 2030, we simply cannot afford to slow down in devising ways to maintain, and improve existing interventions,” She noted.
At the beginning of this month, Rwanda launched a – ‘Free to Shine’ Campaign under the theme: ‘My Child, My Pride’.
According to the First Lady, “it was an opportunity to reflect on the impact of our HIV response to-date, while raising the bar higher, to forever remove all barriers to thriving lives, in our communities.”
By June 2018, the Mother-to-Child Transmission rate in Rwanda stood at 1.5%, and over 97% of health facilities provided Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services, contributing to 96% of neonates, receiving necessary antiretroviral (ARV) treatments.
She told delegates that her organization, Imbuto Foundation, has been deeply engaged in this journey, through initiatives such as Family Package program, offering a comprehensive package of services to families affected by HIV; and other Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) programs promoting the rights of our youth to access information, along with quality treatment, and prevention services.
“The ‘Free to Shine’ campaign presents us with a platform to foster ownership, and increased resource mobilization – which are key in addressing timely access to antenatal care, appropriate adherence to ARV treatment, and exposure of children to HIV,” she said.
Through this Campaign, Rwanda’s Health Ministry, alongside Foundation, Imbuto, and diverse partners in HIV response, have set out to reinforce our national interventions, as a way of further 6 strengthening our commitment, to achieving zero new HIV infections, by 2020.