America’s helping hand in Rwanda

Today, every three seconds a child will die from extreme poverty - either because they don’t have enough food, don’t have access to clean water, or have been struck by an entirely treatable condition like diarrhea, measles or malaria.
Cindy McCain
Cindy McCain

Today, every three seconds a child will die from extreme poverty - either because they don’t have enough food, don’t have access to clean water, or have been struck by an entirely treatable condition like diarrhea, measles or malaria.

The back-ground of millions of Sub-Saharan citizens, trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty and deaths from preventable diseases, creates urgency for their resolution.

Rwanda’s developmental efforts, out-lined in a plan intended to eradicate poverty, The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS); set to be achieved by 2020, (dubbed Vision 2020), will this week receive a major boost from a high level, visiting American delegation.

Rwanda is the first African country, to host such a high level delegation, at a time when the USA’s Presidential race is in full gear with pledges across the political divide to rescue Africa out of the scourge of poverty.  

Rwanda has the rare opportunity of hearing these pledges from the main players, themselves,  who include; Americas former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee together with wife of Republican Presidential candidate Cindy McCain,as well as Senate Majority leaders; Tom Daschle and Bill Frist.

Later in the month Rwanda will also host former President Bill Clinton.

They will discuss America’s next President’s role pertaining to African affairs primarily in the areas of poverty reduction and preventable disease control. Two intricately connected areas which pose a major challenge to Rwanda’s development efforts.

Rwanda’s reputation of good governance, with a zero tolerance for corruption, ranks her among some of the most highly favoured few African countries, International Institutions will do business with.

Thus, it is clear that her being prioritized by those in the USA Presidential race, will use her as a prime example of their commitment to Africa’s Development needs as outlined in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

The two standing American Presidential candidates; Barak Obama and McCain have set the tone in terms of their commitment to the treatment of Malaria for instance.

“I will double funding for the President’s Malaria Initiative and dramatically expand access to mosquito nets that are less than $6… and malaria drugs at the relatively inexpensive cost of $2 per dose - to treat people who get malaria,” is Obama’s view on eradicating malaria.

“As president, I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria -- the number one killer of children under five in Africa -- from the continent…” is McCain’s view on the same issue.

However, the way forward lies in supporting the goal of eliminating deaths from malaria in the interim as a way to eradicating the disease.

A process the USA can support by availing resources for the use of proven, effective, interventions, (insecticide-treated bed nets, malaria treatment and indoor residual spraying).

Concerning the issue of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis both candidates agree on the same solution. The fact remains that many nations will not reach their true potential without outside help in combating the negative impact of  HIV/AIDS, which afflicts poorer nations most severely.

This is a crippling factor to the achievement of the MDG’s by the year 2010.

The MDG’s which were adopted by a United Nations Summit with representatives from 189 countries consists of eight projections which are set to be achieved by 2015.

They cover poverty, hunger, primary education, gender equality, child mortality and access to clean water and sanitation.

However, it is highly unlikely that extreme poverty; an inducer of the other problems will be completely eradicated by 2015.

With most of Africa trapped in this state of helplessness, what are left hanging are the solutions and she has to jump as high as she can to grab the ripe fruits of prosperity.

These solutions, however can not be implemented without the recognition of foreign intervention especially from the well to do developed countries.

Within the ongoing political race, the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism are two high-profile foreign policy issues that have controversially garnered a great deal of attention.

But there is another foreign policy issue, one that affects both America’s safety and standing in the world, which needs to be part of the discussion too.

To bring attention to an issue that doesn’t always get heard through all the politics and sound bites: the emergency of disease and poverty in Africa and the poorest parts of our world, and what America’s role should be in ending it.

What people especially in Africa want to hear are the commitments on how the next president plans to erase preventable diseases like malaria (it’s a killer disease in Africa), increase access to clean water and deliver more life-saving AIDS drugs to the people who need them.

I believe the major factor that will determine the acceptance of the next President by the developing world, will be their plan and commitment to dealing, with the MDG’s in the poorer countries of the world particularly on the African continent.

Presidential hopeful, Obama believes that doubling foreign assistance and lifting up the 33% cap on US contributions to the global Fund will ensure that at least 4.5 million, people are on ARV treatment by 2013 and that 12 million infections will be prevented.

Facing the HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis crisis head-on is critical when it comes to finding a way of halting the spread of these incurable diseases. Practical solutions are needed to overcome this crisis, if development targets are to be met.

I believe that providing universal access to care and treatment to all those who need it will produce results.

With more resources, this goal can be achieved.   
Nonetheless, increasing effective funding to bilateral TB programs, and increasing funding to the successful Global Fund is much needed.

Rwanda has been accommodating and determined to achieve her MDG’s. Its fast track development as compared to other states has provided a favorable environment for more investors to come into the country.

This week a grant from the Global Fund of 63 million US dollars (approx Frw35 billion) was given to Rwanda to facilitate her fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and Tuberculosis.

“The effort made to have this grant is enough for us to achieve better results,” said the health minister Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryawo when signing the pact.

He also added that the money would be used to build 90 maternity wards countrywide. “With the governments continued efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS spread, we are also going to purchase nine million more condoms.” the minister assured.

Rwanda is ready to jump out of the poverty hole, with all the help from her international partners I believe this is possible.

Contact: anyglorian@yahoo. com

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