The First Lady, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, attended and participated in the first HIV-TB Global Leaders’ Forum at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.
For the first time ever, heads of government, public health and business leaders, heads of UN agencies and civil society, came together at the UN Headquarters to confront the global health threat of co-infection of HIV and Tuberculosis.
The HIV-TB Global Leaders’ Forum was convened by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB, Dr. Jorge Sampaio, and endorsed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Forum was opened by the Secretary-General and Mr Srgjan Kerim, President of the UN General Assembly. Notably present was Bill Clinton, President of the Clinton Foundation and former US President, and Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, amongst others.
In her remarks, Mrs Kagame emphasised the need for an integrated approach to treatment of co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis. Today, tuberculosis is the primary cause of death of people living with HIV.
Mrs Kagame also gave practical examples of what Rwanda has done to address this issue, such as the involvement of community members in response to the HIV-Tuberculosis threat. Todate, Rwanda has one of the highest testing rates for tuberculosis in Africa.
In 2004, tuberculosis services in the country were not testing any patients for HIV; in 2007, they tested 89%.
Mrs Kagame empasised the need to strengthen partnerships, saying that, “ strong partnership is needed between government, development partners, the pharmaceutical industry and civil society, in the path to universal access to prevention and treatment of HIV infection and all that it entails.”
The HIV-TB Global Leaders’ Forum took place on the eve of the UN High Level Meeting on Aids, at which Dr Sampaio will report on the outcome of the HIV-TB Global Leaders’ Forum.