New drive to end HIV/AIDS infections among children to be launched

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) campaign kicks off today. Net photo.

A new campaign that seeks to boost efforts to increase awareness, strengthen ownership and accountability to end HIV/AIDS among children and keep mothers alive and healthy will be launched in Kigali today.

According to a statement by Imbuto Foundation, the campaign, dubbed “Free to Shine”, comes at a time when the national prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme moves to the next step to look at individual case by case in the framework of elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT).

Imbuto Foundation is the brainchild of First Lady Jeannette Kagame.

The Free to Shine Campaign, which will be launched at Petit Stade in Remera, is a continental initiative seeking to end paediatric HIV/AIDS by 2030 and keep infected mothers alive and healthy.

The campaign will also seek to reinforce partnerships and advocacy for action to mobilise resources to end paediatric HIV/AIDS and foster community involvement and participation to increase ownership of the EMTCT drive.

Effectively addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is a priority of the African Union to promote equitable and perennial growth, experts say.

In Rwanda, some districts have already registered zero cases of MTCT for the past 5 years and others are striving to achieve the target, according to the statement, which says that such districts will be recognised at the launch of the new initiative on Monday.

During this campaign, according to the statement, efforts will be put in ensuring sustainability for those who have achieved this while supporting those looking to achieve EMTCT.

The Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) has been instrumental in leveraging resources and implementing programmes leading to steep reductions of new HIV infections on the continent.

In Rwanda, according to the statement, a determined leadership has permitted even more encouraging outcomes, with a reduction of new infections in the general population particularly among children.

However, the ambitious goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires unprecedented commitment at the national, regional, continental and global levels, it adds

The catalytic framework, developed in 2015 at the continental level, seeks to provide a framework and guide to HIV/AIDS response efforts, with an emphasis on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission.

Rwanda has made impressive strides in reducing vertical transmission, and the country’s MTCT rate was at 1.5% as of June 2018, according to figures from the Ministry of Health, and the rate is far below the targeted 5% at the cessation of breastfeeding

Mrs Jeannette Kagame is credited to have been the first champion of EMTCT by deeply engaging in the journey to limit HIV infections and ensure that those affected have the same opportunities as others Rwandans.

She particularly paid attention to children and their mothers in a sustained effort to initiate the family package programme in 2001.

In the early days of HIV management, that programme aimed at providing a comprehensive package of services to families infected and affected by HIV.

The event will be launched today, at the national level, in the City of Kigali due to its high HIV prevalence of 6.3 per cent, and the city is considered to be the main contributor of new HIV infections from mother-to-child in the country.

Messages to be delivered include HIV/AIDS awareness messages on ending pediatric epidemy, provision of services–including family planning methods–and condoms distribution and HIV testing services.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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