President Paul Kagame has called for open dialogue, global cooperation and strong national health systems in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This was made at the opening ceremony of the 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) which is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda.
President Kagame intimated that stigma kills hence the need to address stigma and discrimination against persons living. He also remarked that because HIV is an epidemic without borders, global cooperation is necessary for an effective response since all historical success against the epidemic has been grounded on this. He called on governments, especially in Africa, to prioritise domestic funding for health as it is the only sustainable means to attaining universal health coverage. He noted that a strong national health system requires three essential pillars: investment in infrastructure and technology; a highly skilled health personnel, and trust by the people in the health systems. Like President Paul Kagame, Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, also called for measures to address stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS. He also encouraged prevention programmes to hasten the end of the epidemic.
Dr. Diane Gashumba, the Minister of Health, Rwanda noted that it is imperative that those affected by the epidemic are put at the centre of the response. This, she indicated, has been the guiding principle of the successes in the Rwandan health sector. She said HIV care and support should be integrated into other health care services. Dr. Gashumba revealed that Rwanda has attained the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and called for continuous collaboration from all stakeholders until the goal of ending AIDS is achieved.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO commended Rwanda’s progress in health which he described as incredible and a testament to the possibility of achieving a generation free of HIV. He submitted that the significant progress made in science and research has helped yield the gains celebrated today and currently, there is an assiduous effort in search of a cure for HIV.
He identified withering political commitment, declining funding, and the increasing vulnerability of young people to disease as key challenges bedevilling the global health. He however indicated that there are tools to address these challenges. Taking inspiration from the theme of the conference, he called for innovation, community and political leadership to address the challenges identified.
Professor John Idoko, President of SAA and ICASA 2019 revealed that even though a lot has been achieved in the HIV arena in the past 40 years, these gains are dwindling with time. He therefore predicted that if these are not addressed, HIV will continue as a public health threat in future.
He indicated that there is a widening gap between resource need and resource availability thereby posing a threat to the drive to end AIDS. Professor Idoko also called attention to the threat posed by non-communicable diseases and asked that the experience gained in the response to HIV and AIDS be harnessed to address these emerging health threats.
ICASA is a biennial AIDS international conference on AIDS and STIs organised by the Society for AIDS in Africa. The theme for this year is AIDS Free Africa – Innovation, Community and Political Leadership. The conference, the 20th is being held in Kigali, Rwanda from 2nd to 7th December 2019. Like previous editions, this ICASA has assembled people of various backgrounds from several countries “to present opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field of HIV, learn from one another’s expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of the collective efforts to end AIDS by 2030.”
The opening ceremony was attended by several African First Ladies, heads and representatives of government and UN agencies, international corporations and the private sector.
The Ghana AIDS Commission is a supra-ministerial and multi-sectoral body established under the Chairmanship of H. E. the President of the Republic of Ghana by Act 2016, Act 938 of Parliament. The objective of the Commission is to formulate policy on the HIV and AIDS epidemic and...find out more