|© UNICEF video|
|Young participants at Rwanda’s annual conference on children affected by HIV/AIDS. The three-day event attracted about 300 people from around the world.|
By Chris Morgan
KIGALI, Rwanda, 16 December 2008 — The Mashirika Theatre group opened the country’s annual Conference on Children Affected By HIV/AIDS. The performers and children are survivors of the 1994 genocide.
The three-day conference attracted over 300 international and national researchers, development practitioners, experts and Rwanda children with the theme of 'equity in financing services' for HIV-affected children.
Genocide left many orphaned
“The 1994 Genocide left many children orphaned and some have lost one or both parents to the HIV pandemic,” said Executive Secretary of the Rwandan National Aids Control Commission Dr. Anita Asiimwe. She hailed Rwandans for taking responsibility for orphaned and vulnerable children.
The conference recommended direct participation by orphans and vulnerable children in the drafting and implementation of policies. Rwanda was praised by Christophe Grundmann from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation for being among the few African countries that are successfully implementing services of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.
At the closing ceremony the Rwandan Minister of Health Dr. Richard Sezibera pledged continued government support. “I can assure you that we’ll continue to support and with you, our partners, all stakeholders including children to tackle the spread and impact of HIV,” he said.
The Health Minister said that the conference will inform the development and implementation of the government’s social policy, “Your efforts through the national conferences help the country towards achievement of Millennium Development Goal 6 on combating HIV/AIDS and reaching universal access targets for prevention, protection, treatment care and support,” he said.