KIGALI - The US President George W. Bush has been impressed by students’ anti-HIV/Aids clubs in Rwandan schools, saying it was an effective strategy to control the prevalence of the disease among the youth. President Bush was addressing students of Lycée de Kigali on Tuesday during his one- day state visit to the country on his five-nation African tour that ends today in Liberia. “Students are potentially intelligent people who can play a vital role in fighting the prevalence of HIV/Aids,” Bush said. The establishment of anti-HIV/Aids clubs within and outside schools is one of the programmes emphasized on by the National Aids Control Commission (CNLS).
The scheme is sponsored by Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). The programme is part of the innovative youth programme called Abajene (the youth) implemented by PSI with the aim of reducing HIV/Aids incident by increasing safer sexual behaviors among youths in the country.
Bush said that he will continue supporting all initiatives that are geared towards fighting HIV/Aids in African countries.
The cheerful students of Lycée de Kigali, who are members of the school’s anti-Aids club, explained to President Bush that they do sensitise their fellow students to abstain from premature sex through drama, songs and dialogues.
“We use all means possible to see that our colleagues are not trapped in anyway by blood thirsty people who would want to spread HIV to them,” Elly Butera, a Senior Five student, told Bush and his wife, Mrs Laura Bush.
Also, during the same session, Enock Higiro explained that through these clubs, parents have played a leading role in teaching their children about the dangers of the deadly disease.
The headmaster of Lycée de Kigali, Martin M. Masabo, described President Bush’s visit as a rare opportunity and a pride to the school. “President Bush’s visit to our school and our anti-HIV/Aids Club is an important milestone towards achieving a society free of Aids,” Masabo said.
He explained that anti-HIV/Aids clubs have since 2000 been assisting students to know more about the pandemic and how best they can prevent themselves from contracting it.
Among the officials who were in attendance include the State Minister for HIV/Aids and other Infectious Diseases, Dr Innocent Nyaruhirira, and CNLS Executive Secretary, Dr Agnes Binagwaho. Bush, who arrived in Rwanda from Tanzania on Tuesday, left the same day for Ghana, and was expected to wrap up his second African tour since 2001 with a stop to Liberia, before returning home today.
Bush, who leaves office in January, 2008 after his two four-year terms in the White House, who is unpopular at home and many parts of the world, is regarded as a true African friend in many African states, thanks to his contribution towards the fight against HIV/Aids, malaria and poverty.
Bush and President Paul Kagame on Tuesday signed a Bilateral Treaty Agreement between Rwanda and the US, which is hoped to encourage American investors to invest in Rwanda.