A new report by several UN agencies has ranked Rwanda among eight countries worldwide that have registered significant progress in increasing access to anti-HIV/Aids services, including antiretroviral drugs.
The report titled, ‘Towards universal access’ was compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
It details global progress made in achieving the 2010 target of preventing the spread of the disease as well as providing treatment and care to people living with the virus.
The report that assessed the HIV/Aids progress in 144 low and middle-income countries in 2009 indicated that Rwanda and seven other countries are the only nations that achieved universal access to antiretroviral treatment.
In each of these countries, it is estimated that 80 percent of those who need the drugs access them. The other countries are Botswana, Cambodia, Croatia, Cuba, Guyana, Oman and Romania.
“In Rwanda, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy in December 2008 were 63,149, while in December 2009, they were76, 726, increasing by 21 percent,” reads part of the report.
And, according to Dr Placidie Mugwaneza from TRAC PLUS, the number of people receiving ARV therapy has since gone up to over 80,000 which places Rwanda in its current position.
“We attribute our success to effective coordination of our work and avoiding duplication,” said Mugwaneza.
She singled out Global Fund, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and several UN Agencies for backing the government intervention programmes.
“There is a quantification committee in the Ministry of Health that sits once a year and comes up with a complete statistical report on how many people need ARVs,” she explained.
The joint report indicates that, in Rwanda, the existence of a coordinated procurement and distribution system for antiretroviral drugs and medication for opportunistic diseases has attracted the more efforts from the government, donors, as well as international organizations.
“Rwanda has succeeded in reducing stock-outs and drug expiry by ensuring that, once potential antiretroviral stock-outs are identified, a partner can step in and fill any gaps as needed. When the stock-out is a national issue and concerns all districts, an internationally agreed approach is to place an emergency order from partners who have buffer stocks in their warehouses at regional (Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra) or headquarter levels and explore which options would respond more rapidly to the urgent country need,” indicates the report.
The report also adds: “Different models for the delivery of integrated HIV and TB services have been implemented in several countries with promising results. Provision of HIV testing in TB clinics and TB screening for inpatients in medical wards and HIV-positive outpatients has been used in Rwanda.”