The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi had very grave effects on top of the over a million that lost their lives. According to various reports, a number of women contracted the deadly HIV/AIDS due to rape from Genocide perpetrators. This subsequently had serious implications on human health and the Rwandan population in general.
HIV/AIDS has been one of major health challenges not only in Rwanda but also in the great lakes region. Rape, torture, murder and other gender based violence activities were high during the 1994 Genocide. In the 100 days of the Genocide the rate of spread of the disease was high and uncontrollable.
The current government has encountered great challenges in an effort to fight spread of the disease as well as providing proper health care to the victims.
After realizing that the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases like Tuberculosis and Malaria were posing great social and economic challenges to the society, set up special institutions that dealt with such challenges.
The minister of state in charge of HIV/AIDS and others infectious diseases as well as the national commission for fight against HIV/AIDS (CNLS) were established. T
he two institutions worked hand in hand to reduce the rate of prevalence of the disease. This was done through continuous and concrete sensitisation programs as well as designing immediate and long term strategic framework to overcome the social and economic challenges posed by the disease.
The achievements and hard work from the two institutions was manifested in 2005, when a health survey carried out by the experts from the ministry of health and other health institutions showed that the rate of infection had dropped from 11 per cent to 3 per cent of the population.
The current 3 per cent prevalence rate shows how the Rwandan government and its health partners have worked hard to equip and protect the population from infection.
In the light of the current situation where many widows and genocide survivors have in previous years presented with HIV/AIDS and its clinical sufferance, it is of no doubt that the 1994 genocide had negative health impacts to the Rwandan population.
The Rwandan government and its health partners have responded in a way that does not only assist the HIV/AIDS victims to live their daily lives but also contribute to the social and economic progress of their families and society.
‘I was raped during Genocide by Hutu militias and got infected with HIV/AIDS. I have a family of three children. We have managed to live due to government programs that support Genocide survivors and people living with HIV/AIDS,’’ says Agnes, 42.
It is now clear that HIV hinders the full participation of its victim in daily life, which makes it vital to prevent the spread of such a disease. The prevention act has been propagated by use of the: abstinence, be faithful and use of condoms.
Abstinence and faithfulness are the most dependable tools to prevent the infection. Use of condoms is also another scientific proven measure but people have reportedly misused it and this has partly contributed to moral setbacks especially in the teen age groups.
The government of Rwanda has embarked on education and dialogue about the causes and consequences of the disease to increase the awareness of the disease in the society though it still remains a major threat to the people in the great lakes region.
Health experts and the ministry of health have been assisting with facilitation of dialogue and awareness rising amongst the population thus contributing to the reduction of stigma.
The culture of peace and respect for human rights has prevailed so as to prevent the inevitable proliferation of the disease during bad periods.
Women’s rights have been protected which includes doing away with cultural and traditional practices that impinge on measures to overcome gender based violence.
The Rwandan national police and the ministry of health have played key role in the fight against gender based violence.
In most cases it is clear that the presence of peace is important for human security but the frustration generated in victims that have acquired HIV/AIDS as a result of violence may hinder attempts for peace.
It is therefore fundamental for our leaders to find solutions for those already infected with the disease so as to enable them to fully participate in the justice process as well as other aspects of living.
As far as justice is concerned, the importance of having both physically and psychologically healthy witnesses and potential witnesses enhances the quality of their testimonies and their ability to participate in trials, which is vital for a fair judgment.
Gender violence that contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS has to be addressed and one must keep in mind that without justice there cannot be sustained peace and without peace, there cannot be human security.