Kigali, Rwanda — Representatives from the U.S. Government under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), the Rwandan Ministry of Health (MOH), the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), Family Health International (FHI 360), and IntraHealth International will gather on December 12 to celebrate the completion of the USAID HIV/AIDS Clinical Services Project (HCSP) in Rwanda.
The event will be hosted by EGPAF, FHI 360, and IntraHealth International, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and the U.S. Embassy. It will take place at 1:00 p.m. at Nobleza Hotel in Kicukiro Distric,t and will feature speeches from government officials and beneficiary partners as well as presentations highlighting the accomplishments of the last five years. Musical entertainment will be provided by local celebrity Tom Close.
Since the start of the HCSP in June 2007, each U.S. Government (USG) partner led capacity building and service delivery support in different regions of the country (EGPAF in the Eastern Province, FHI360 in the Southern Province, and IntraHealth in the Northern Province), working closely with Rwandan governmental institutions at the national and decentralized levels, local implementing agencies, faith-based organizations, multilateral and bilateral partners, and other development partners.
HCSP aimed to increase access to quality HIV-related clinical services by building the capacity of national and decentralized health institutions to provide comprehensive HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. Additionally, the project supported maternal and child health, family planning, gender-based violence prevention and treatment, and water and sanitation services. Since its beginning, HCSP emphasized innovative, evidence-based, and cost-effective approaches to health service delivery and management. Throughout its duration, approximately 60 percent of all funds went directly to districts and health facilities.
"The HIV Clinical Services Program in Rwanda has made an outstanding contribution to the response to HIV and AIDS in our country," said Rwanda's Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho. "We appreciate the efforts of EGPAF, FHI 360, and IntraHealth in building the capacity of districts and health care providers to expand high-quality clinical services. We also recognize the financial support received from the U.S. Government through PEPFAR/USAID."
Over the life of the project, HCSP supported total of163 health institutions in 18 districts and Kigali City. Through the combined efforts of EGPAF, FHI 360, and IntraHealth, 450,000 women were reached with PMTCT services. Over 10,000 HIV-exposed infants were tested for HIV at six weeks of age, and 2.4 percent tested HIV-positive and were put on treatment. At the close of the HCSP technical implementation period in September 2012, over 34,000 clients, including 2,354 children, were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 43,398 adults and 3,903 children had ever received ART under the program.
"The Rwandan Ministry of Health has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the welfare of women, children, and communities in Rwanda," said Charles Lyons, President and CEO of EGPAF. "We appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the policies and programs that make this happen. Rwanda has taken an important step toward creating a generation free of HIV by making PMTCT the cornerstone of its national HIV and AIDS response plan, with a clear commitment to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. The Foundation has been proud to work with the MOH, USAID, and the partner organizations to forward this ambitious goal and the partnership, which has provided much-needed HIV services and improved the lives of countless women, children, and families in this country."
"We, at FHI 360, are honored to have had the opportunity, through HCSP, to reinforce and expand upon the gains made under previous HIV prevention, care treatment and mitigation projects that we have been managing in Rwanda since 1993," said Albert Siemens, CEO of FHI 360. "We believe that sustainability comes from building the capacity of individuals, communities and countries to address their needs. We are grateful to USAID, the Rwanda Biomedical Center and Ministry of Health, provincial and district level authorities, and our strategic and implementing partners who, together, made this program a success."
"We are proud to support Rwanda's strong national health programs, including its national HIV/AIDS program, focusing on prevention, care, and treatment," said Pape Gaye, President and CEO of IntraHealth International. He added, "We have been privileged to work in close partnership with the districts of Gasabo, Gicumbi, Nyagatare, and Rulindo to help the MOH build capacity of district hospitals and health centers to provide quality HIV/AIDS and other health services for improved patient care. IntraHealth has appreciated the Rwanda government's strong leadership and vision, support from USAID Rwanda, and the collaborative stakeholder partnerships that have improved the lives of so many Rwandans."
Approximately 170,000 people are living with HIV in Rwanda. Of those, 22,000 are children under the age of 15, and 130,000 children younger than 17 years have lost one or more parents to the disease (UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2010). According to the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS, 2012), HIV prevalence is 3 percent for the general population, with significant gender and geographic disparities. Prevalence among adult women is estimated to be 3.7 percent, and 2.2 percent for adult men, while the rates in urban areas (7.1 percent) are three times higher than in rural areas (2.3 percent).
The work of HCSP will continue in a new form through the USAID-supported Rwanda Family Health Project (RFHP). This new project will build on the foundation established by the HCSP with the purpose of building the capacity of Rwandan institutions to deliver high-quality family health services. Family health services include an integrated package of services related to family planning and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, maternal, neonatal and child health; malaria prevention and treatment; nutrition; safe water and hygiene; and tuberculosis treatment. The RFHP will build local capacity, promote healthy behaviours, increase the use of health services, and strengthen linkages between and within community health facilities.