KIGALI, 16 November 2009 - At the opening of the fifth national conference on children and AIDS, delegates were reminded through a wonderful performance by children of the importance on ensuring universal access to prevention, care, treatment and support services for all children.
“I am 15 years old. I go to school with children who are HIV-positive, who are always singled out and stigmatized because of what they have,” said Oliver Mugabowishema of eastern Rwanda. “I am here today to ask our Government to help our schools treat children who live with HIV with dignity and respect,” he added.
This three-day conference, which features a parallel session for 90 children from all over the country, is organised jointly by the National AIDS Control Commission, the United Nations in Rwanda and a host of other partners. It will focus on what remains to be done in Rwanda to achieve Millennium Development Targets to halt and begun to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS and to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV and AIDS for all those who need it by 2010.
Rwanda has made considerable progress in mitigating the spread of HIV - prevalence remains at three per cent and 66 per cent of children who need treatment are able to access it.
“Rwanda was one of the first countries in the world to hold a national conference on children and AIDS,” said the acting UN Resident Coordinator, Joseph Foumbi. “and I am certain that it will do its best to reach these MDG targets, which is why the UN in Rwanda remains committed to supporting the people and government of this country to mitigate the effects of AIDS on children,” he added.
Over 300 delegates, including experts, researchers and local NGO activities will attend packed sessions to forge recommendations and action plans on how to fast track actions for children and AIDS in Rwanda. Conference recommendations will be reviewed by the CNLS and operationalised into the country’s annual strategic plan to fight HIV and AIDS.
For the first time in its history, the paediatric conference will award several prizes this year – including four Innovation Awards for the best presentations, four awards to acknowledge the best abstracts Best Young Investigator and one Excellent District Intervention Award to reward an innovative best practice in mitigating the impact of HIV on children.
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