The President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame has called for action to prevent the destruction of African communities, families and generations by HIV/AIDS. He was speaking on Wednesday at a luncheon co-hosted by the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids foundation and Pfizer pharmaceutical company at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC.
Kagame said that if urgent action is not taken in Africa, and silence, stigma and consequent spread of HIV persists, then the destruction of communities, families and generations will be inevitable. About 5,500 people die of HIV/AIDS in Africa everyday.
Kagame added, “HIV/AIDS is the single greatest threat to welfare and development in the developing world. On the African continent, the AIDS pandemic threatens to wipe out the socio-economic achievements that our people attained over the last decades, making it the biggest threat to our continent’s development.”
Kagame noted that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is crippling Africa’s capacity to build its human capital base, since it is the youth, and generally people in their productive years that are dying.
The President also noted the AIDS pandemic has no boundaries, and it is therefore crucial for the fight against the scourge to take a global dimension. “In that respect, international solidarity is needed. In my view, it is inconceivable that, in this day and age, the means to fight the pandemic are only readily available to the developed world. Here, the role of leadership is of paramount importance, not only in terms of mobilising the resources required, but also in terms of sensitising the populations,” Kagame said.
He further noted that poverty reduction is indispensable to the fight against HIV/AIDS and “has an even a greater multiplier effect in contributing to world peace and security.” He said that because of this link between HIV/AIDS, peace and security and poverty, there needs to be close multi-sector collaboration in dealing with these issues. “Governments and corporate entities, including pharmaceutical companies, should have a vested interest in combating poverty and ensuring that those infected have the care and treatment they deserve,” he said.
President Kagame thanked the Elizabeth Glaser foundation for its involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. “We wish to register our most sincere gratitude for your support,” he said.
The Elizabeth Glaser foundation is a non-profit organization focused on paediatric HIV/AIDS research, and raises money for programmes benefiting children and families living with HIV/AIDS. The foundation’s mission is to identify, fund and conduct critical paediatric research that will lead to better treatments and prevention of HIV infections in infants and children. It also aims to reduce and prevent HIV transmission from mother-to-child, and to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for other serious and life threatening paediatric diseases.
The foundation’s work in Rwanda includes funding a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) programme at the Kigali Central Hospital (CHK).
The luncheon was also attended by First Lady Madam Jeannette Kagame, Foreign Minister Dr. Charles Muligande, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the US Dr. Richard Sezibera, the Director of Cabinet in the Presidency, Ambassador Dr Théogčne Rudasingwa and two hundred other guests.