Rwanda ready for Implementers Meeting
25 April 2007
Despite many challenges in the country, Rwanda is demonstrating exceptional commitment to bring together a successful 2007 HIV/AIDS Implementer’s Meeting in Kigali. During a recent three day visit to the capital, UNAIDS’ Director of Country and Regional Support , Michel Sidibe remarked on the country’s efforts to provide the best possible support for the event scheduled to take place from 16 to 19 June 2007.
“I am really impressed at the level of leadership in the country,” said Mr Sidibe upon his return. “Five ministers are meeting every two weeks to coordinate the preparation of the Implementers Meeting. This is an indication of the country’s commitment to make the most out of this event,” he added.
More than 1500 participants are expected to attend this year’s meeting, with the vast majority travelling from developing countries. The meeting will bring together a broad cross-section of AIDS implementers, including non-governmental organizations receiving funding from various sources. It will be an opportunity to take stock of past achievements and consider concrete solutions for moving the response to AIDS forward towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
The meeting is co-sponsored by the government of Rwanda and a number of international partners, including the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
Rwanda is among the ten countries in Africa most severely affected by HIV. The country is facing a generalized epidemic, with an estimated 190 000 people living with HIV in 2006. AIDS claimed the lives of 21 000 people last year alone and made 210 000 orphans.
Faced with such a challenge, political leaders at the highest-level decided to adopt a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, decentralized and community-based approach, involving representatives from groups of people living with HIV, faith based organizations, the media, the private sector and other stakeholders. In 2001, a National AIDS Control Commission was established under the office of the President and in 2002, a Treatment and Research AIDS Centre was created to expand access to testing and counselling, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and clinical care and support for people living with HIV.
Building on this tradition of collaborative work in the response to AIDS, the country is well on track for the meeting.
“I met with many governmental and non governmental groups working on AIDS in the country, and I am looking forward to working with them all in the coming months to fine tune the organization of this meeting,” said Mr Sidibe. “This meeting can become a significant milestone to better understand how we can make the money work for universal access and all parties are working hard to make this happen,” he concluded.