As the sun set, a ray of hope was rising from the country of a thousand hills, a ray that cast its light towards saving the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
There are some moments in life when you are simply proud. This time, I was proud to be an African watching an event led by the Rwandan Government, which involved both the Rwandan private sector and the wider African private sector.
Certainly, the beam’s origin is a group of business executives that converged at the invitation of Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the First lady of Rwanda, for a Private Sector Summit dinner in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on November 6, 2010.
After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the successful rebuilding of Rwanda has relied on multiple pillars, among them solidarity and responsibility. These values have found memorable expression in the commitment undertaken in November 2010 by the Rwandan private sector, along with the African private sector.
Their joint action was guided by solidarity, social responsibility, common development goals and the inspiration provided by the Government of Rwanda, which has led the way by its commitment to improve the health of Rwandans.
Such solidarity and responsibility were vital in the ancient African setting, and should be nurtured today and tomorrow, as we seek solutions to respond to African challenges, particularly those that concern the health sector.
I would not be far from the truth in describing this initiative as an indicator of tangible results that can be achieved when African leaders from government and the private sector join forces: not only to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis on the African continent, but to contribute to a truly global cause.
Africa bears more than 80% of the global HIV, TB and malaria burden. This explains why about 60% of the resources of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are allocated to Africa. 2010 is the year of replenishment for the Global Fund. Organizations of Friends of Global Fund across the world are advocating and mobilizing around this crucial year.
On November 6, 2010, at the initiative of Mrs. Janet Kagame, member of the Board of Friends of the Global Fund Africa and wife of His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, the Government of Rwanda hosted an African Private Sector Summit as a fundraising event in favour of Global Fund replenishment.
Those attending the Summit include his Excellency President Paul Kagame, First Lady Jeannette Kagame, and Michel Katzatchine, the Executive Director of the Global Fund and Mr. Aigboje Imokhuede, Chair of Global Fund Africa.
During this event, $3 million were raised in the country of 1000 hills. The Rwandan private sector committed $1,200,000, the African Private Sector an additional $800,000 and the Government of Rwanda $1,000,000. Compared to how much the Global Fund needs, $3 million may seem like a drop in the ocean. Yet this event holds significance that reaches far beyond a simple monetary sum.
This contribution to the Global Fund aims at improving the lives of the vulnerable and promoting health on the African continent. It reminds us that each drop of water in the ocean is made by millions of years of preparation. That means that what we see here is not a futile raindrop in a sea, but rather an oasis in a desert that will and should continue to provide a life-giving spring in the years ahead.
We see Africans--African governments and the African private sector--exercising their humanitarian duty and responsibility by improving the wealth and the health of the African people.
The central lesson is that solidarity is paramount to attaining national goals and building a national vision. Solidarity in this concrete sense expresses the principle that those who have greater resources can pay more, contributing to save the lives of those who have less, and thereby enabling them to be healthy and productive citizens. Such solidarity contributes to the development of the country and of Africa as a whole. Thus, it ultimately benefits all. Such tangible solidarity exists in the Rwandan system of health insurance, for example. That is how 92% of Rwandans enjoy health insurance coverage that allows all to access the prevention, care and treatment available in Rwanda when needed.
The contribution by Rwanda’s private sector to the Global Fund replenishment has demonstrated that even developing economies can participate and contribute to a global cause. Whether the strict monetary value is large or small, lives are saved, and the beam of hope will shine on the lives of many in Africa and beyond. It is true that Africans deserve to receive according their needs, but also true that Africans should contribute according their capabilities.
Thanks to the commitment of the government of Rwanda and the Rwandan and African private sectors, this principle is becoming a reality.
The author is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health