KIGALI - The First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, yesterday called on African governments to be more supportive of the Africa AIDS Vaccine Program (AAVP) – an initiative that aims at finding a preventative measure against the pandemic.
While addressing health leaders at the on-going 59th Session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee, Mrs. Kagame made this plea in her capacity as the AAVP High Representative.
“It is imperative for us to own this process and truly begin to set our own agenda in the fight against HIV/ AIDS. I appeal to all African governments to be more engaged in their technical, financial and political support for the vaccine,” she said.
During her remarks, the First Lady cited major challenges facing the success of this innovation such as those that are scientific, the fact that it is costly and may take time adding that the idea still remains the best hope of controlling the viral epidemic.
“We are unwavering in the search for a speedy end to this pandemic and plans are underway for more clinical trials in Africa for 2010. African leaders must explore options for engaging young generations of African scientists,” Mrs. Kagame advised.
Dr. Alash Abimiku, a researcher in the development of this vaccine also noted that the innovation is unique as it focuses on Africa in particular – practical evidence that the continent is taking its destiny in its hands.
The former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae commended Mrs. Kagame for her great interest in the prevention of HIV/ Aids adding that she is an inspiration to many African people.
“We are proud of what you have done and are still doing and we are inspired by your interest in the prevention of HIV/ Aids. It will therefore be a victory for us if we succeed in developing the vaccine,” Mogae said with a smile.
Other officials from the African Union, countries like Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Namibia and Zambia expressed commitment towards the development of the vaccine.