Infection down, but relax not the fight against HIV/Aids

The Rwanda African Peer Review Mechanism report is a harbinger of good news – HIV/Aids prevalence has dropped. The report put the prevalence rates as having dropped from 11 per cent to just 3 percent. This is a very significant drop indeed, for which all stakeholders should be thankful.

Recognition should go in large part to such stakeholders like the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief - PEPFAR – which is US President George Bush’s initiative to fight the HIV/Aids pandemic. Rwanda’s share from PEPFAR funding amounts to $72 million, and it is this amount which has been judiciously used to effect such positive change.

It is most important to note, however, that funds alone cannot bring such change. It is the combination of both money and the Rwandan government’s commitment to fight HIV/ Aids, that we should owe such heartening dropping figures of sufferers. For example, the proper use of such money saw as many as 103 health sites facilitated to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Further, 50 percent of Aids sufferers are accessing anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), which programme is going hand-in-hand with facilitating people to test for HIV, as well as accessing counselling services. Care services for orphans and vulnerable children include school fees, healthcare, livestock support, food and basic household supplies. This means that the HIV/Aids prevention programmes are run by determined Rwandans out to prevent or make people live a positive life, being assisted in their endeavours by willing development partners and schemes. Indeed all NGOs, health institutions, and specialised HIV/ Aids clinics should be thanked for their untiring efforts.

Yet, the danger lies not in the success of the hard work that has brought this about. It lies in the tendency to become complacent and sit on our achievements, and forget the strict discipline that has made us reach where we are. As in the rest of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) tenets of African regeneration, economic and otherwise, the APRM should moot for more grass-root people involvement – a top-to-bottom approach that is being used a lot in the NEPAD – to see the continued plummeting of the HIV/Aids infection rates in Rwanda.

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