The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: President Lauds Us Aids Relief Programme

President Paul Kagame yesterday commended the US government for playing a key role in fighting HIV/Aids in Rwanda. The Head of State was speaking at a private high-level meeting on PEPFAR Country Health Partnerships in New York.

He said the Americans, through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) programme have saved many Rwandan lives from the virus. The initiative, that was launched in Rwanda in 2004, has raised millions of dollars from the US to combat virus in the country.

"Rwanda appreciates the United States government's support to fight HIV and Aids through PEPFAR for the past decade. It is a partnership that has saved lives," the President said. Kagame is in the US to attend the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York, which he addressed last evening.

"We welcome this commitment to formalise a Country Health Partnership for PEPFAR. This new partnership has the ability to further expand our HIV response, allow us the time to increase our domestic funding and ensure the gains achieved are sustained," Kagame noted.

Aids free generation:

He stated that the new partnership will bring about an Aids-free generation in Rwanda. The President noted that the success of the project will depend on PEPFAR's efforts that will be tailored to local needs.

"Rwanda is ready to work within that framework, so that PEPFAR adapts with the changing situation in Rwanda in the most sustainable manner. It will be the basis for us to jointly establish shared benchmarks and measure progress towards meeting our common goals."

Kagame said that the country is ready to begin the new phase of the PEPFAR joint venture, so that the good work achieved in the past years of collaboration is long-lasting.

He added, "We should also take these principles of this new partnership further - and share them with other key global partners in the fight against HIV." The project supports about 40 community and faith-based health schemes. Rwanda's HIV/Aids prevalence rate presently stands at about 3 per cent.

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