Annually, on December 1, the World AIDS Day is marked across the globe.
In line with that day, German Development Cooperation (GDC) in Rwanda held its third Staff and Family Day on November 23 at SOS Technical High School, Kagugu.
GDC recognises that HIV and sexual health can have a negative impact on Rwanda’s development. That is why these issues have been mainstreamed in the second phase of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and the Vision 2020
“The Staff and Family Day of the German Development Cooperation is a great opportunity to enjoy time together, to get to know each other better and to discuss and reflect jointly essential issues of our daily life such as health and human rights,” said Nils Warner, the head of GDC Rwanda, while addressing 440 staff and their family members.
Besides discussing gender issues and non- communicable and chronic diseases, focus was mainly on HIV prevention and how to deal with the disease once one is infected.
Even though a lot of progress has been made, more efforts are still needed to reach the global target of zero new infections by 2015.
According to latest figures, HIV prevalence at the national level is at 3 per cent within age group of 15-49. Although infection rates have been low and quite stable in the past years, HIV remains a serious threat especially in urban areas. Fore example, HIV prevalence remains significantly higher in Kigali at 7.3 per cent.
However, as a result of free treatment, the number of deaths linked with AIDS has been on decline in last 10 years.
There is however need for more awareness, especially at family level.
Yvette Mukaruhunga, a participant at the GDC Staff and Family Day pointed out that “the issue here in Rwanda is that many parents still do not talk to their children about sexuality. Therefore days like this are important, for reaching the parents and showing them how to talk to their children.”
Children and adolescent have benefited from workshops under topics such as “HIV and Friendship.”
Robert Muwanika, an IT specialist at GIZ remarked that “If you’re able to change family values by education and not force, like it is done today, the kids will grow up with this concept.”