Rwanda, 12 May 2011: UNICEF and the UN in Rwanda applaud the new campaign to eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child
BUGESERA, Rwanda, 12 May 2011 - At a ceremony inaugurated by Rwanda’s First Lady and attended by UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Rwandan Government announced today the launch of a campaign to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
“The timing of this launch could not be more perfect,” said Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, who had travelled especially to Rwanda to attend this launch ceremony. “As you know, both the UN Secretary-General and the UN’s Joint Programme on AIDS have called for the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. In a recent meeting held in South Africa, the global plan to eliminate HIV was developed by leaders from more than 30 states and over 25 civil society, private sector and international agencies. Not only is the elimination a possibility by 2015, but I am confident that in Rwanda it will be a reality,” he added.
While Rwanda has one of the lowest HIV prevalence rates in the region – at 3per cent - prevalence rates amongst pregnant women in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital range between 16 and 34 per cent. HIV-positive women can transmit HIV to their children either during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. In Rwanda, there are over 20,000 children living with HIV and around 220,000 who have been orphaned as a result of AIDS.
Experts estimate that 6,300 additional Rwandan children would become HIV-positive every year if interventions to prevent HIV transmission did not exist. Fortunately they do – in 82 per cent of all health facilities across the country.
Under this campaign, the Government has set itself a goal to reduce new HIV infections amongst children to below 2 per cent by 2015.
According to Elhadj As Sy, this is possible and important, but it would also imply a re-focus on issues through an “equity lens”, thereby reaching those women who have thus far not been reached, including pregnant adolescents. It also means disaggregating data to identify gaps in coverage, access and utilization, as well as removing bottlenecks so that any inequities in supply and demand can be dealt with.
The launch ceremony was also attended by numerous government representatives, representatives from PEPFAR, and other members of the international donor community, incluidng Chip Lyons, head of the Elizabeth Glazer Paediatric AIDS Foundation and former President of the US Fund for UNICEF.
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