Rwanda: Icasa 2019 - Takeaways, Lessons and Recommendations

7 December 2019

The 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) 2019 will conclude its seven-day activities on Saturday, December 7.

It has been going on for the past six days and has seen hundreds of sessions on different topics either on HIV, infectious diseases or human rights to treatment.

In 2017, the biannual gathering had been held in Cote d'Ivoire. This year's conference in Kigali was themed "AIDS Free Africa: Innovation, Community and Leadership".

It brought together 10,000 people from 150 countries including Presidents Paul Kagame and Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, five African first ladies including Jeanette Kagame, heads of international organisations and civil society organisations.

As the conference nears its end, Saturday Times gathered participants' reactions and recommendations and lessons learnt from ICASA 2019.

Excerpts;

Agnes Ngono, Cameroon

It is my second time to attend ICASA and I think this year's conference was unique in a way because it had a high participation of young people which I think is a good thing.

My recommendation for the next conference is communities and organisations get funded for people to see more actions than words because we saw a lot of discussions in this conference.

Farisai Gamariel, Mozambique

I was very impressed by the organisation of this year's conference and the energy of young people here. I also noticed that Rwanda is a free country, trans-gender people walk around freely contrary to some other countries and I like it.

I would like to recommend that in the next conference, organisers acknowledge more key population people to talk and participate in leading positions of the conference.

Bradley Muracia, Kenya

I have been attending ICASA since 2015. In terms of security and organisation, the conference in Kigali is very unique.

My key takeaway is that people have the same rights and should be treated equally no matter their sexual orientation. But I think in the next ICASA more people from key population or LGBTQ+ should be involved.

Potamiene Komezusenge, Rwanda

I was very impressed by how people got along regardless their differences in this conference. Whether you speak different languages or look different, participants seemed to freely express themselves.

I also learnt that Rwanda is one of the countries in Africa where ARVs are freely accessible, as an HIV positive person, that is good news and a privilege.

As a recommendation, I would like to see poor people from countryside get involved and educated because it is them who face complex challenges.

Omar Siddo, Niger

The conference was very well organised, people are hospitable and nice to people with disabilities like me. At the next conference, I would like to see more people living with disabilities participating and leading sessions.

Frodouard Mbonigaba, Rwanda

I am 60 years old and HIV positive, attending this conference has been a lifetime experience. I learnt a lot, it was like a training. I am impressed by how comfortable it is to be here.

No judgements or stereotypes, they express themselves as they are. I can only suggest that it happens again.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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