HIV/AIDS Threatens To Undo Social, Economic Achievements in Africa, Rwandan President Paul Kagame Says
"HIV/AIDS is the single greatest threat to welfare and development in the developing world," and the disease "threatens to wipe out the socioeconomic achievements ... attained over the last decades" in Africa, making the epidemic the "biggest threat" to the continent's development, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Wednesday. Kagame, speaking at a luncheon co-hosted by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and drug maker Pfizer, said that the world faces a "grim task" in the fight against AIDS, as many countries face the short-term challenge of caring for people living with the disease and the long-term challenge of development. He said that there should be a "corresponding commitment" to fight poverty in developing countries. "Investing in poverty reduction is as indespensable as the fight against HIV/AIDS, and has even a greater ... effect in contributing to world peace and security," Kagame said. He added that "the role of leadership is of paramount importance" in countries' responses, "not only in terms of mobilizing the resources required, but also in terms of sensitizing the populations" to the disease in order to reduce stigma and discrimination. He said that the fight against AIDS must be "global but focused" and be a multisectoral approach, including responses from the public and private sectors as well as civil society. However, he warned that the establishment of numerous "mechanisms and institutions" is not the answer to responding effectively to the epidemic. "[H]istory will not judge us by how many of these are in place," he said, adding, "We will be judged on the basis of whether we all acted forcefully and in time to get the desired results" (Kagame speech text, 3/5). Kagame met with President Bush on Tuesday at the White House to discuss bilateral relations, peace, security and development, including HIV/AIDS. Kagame thanked Bush for the United States' continued economic support of several development projects in Rwanda, particularly in HIV/AIDS prevention and agricultural development. "The U.S. is very important to Rwanda in fighting HIV/AIDS, dealing with poverty, and Rwanda will continue to benefit from a number of initiatives created by the Bush administration," Kagame said on Tuesday (Department of the Presidency of Rwanda release, 3/5).
Glaser Foundation, Pfizer Active in Rwanda
Kate Carr, EGPAF president and CEO, said that the foundation funds 11 health care delivery sites in Kigali, Rwanda, to provide treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. This year, the foundation expects to reach more than 10,000 women in Kigali with voluntary HIV testing and counseling (Carr speech text, 3/5). Paula Luff, director of international philanthropy programs at Pfizer, said that the company's Diflucan Partnership Programme, which provides the antifungal drug free of charge to treat cryptococcal meningitis and esophogeal candidiasis, two AIDS-related opportunistic infections, has provided Diflucan to 256 patients in Kigali in its first four months. The partnership, which operates in 13 countries, also supports training for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as health care workers who treat such individuals. Other attendees at the luncheon included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Health and Science Jack Chow, Director of the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS Connie Carrino, Director of the White House Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy Joe O'Neill, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), former Rep. John Porter (R-Ill.) and Sandy Thurman, head of the International AIDS Trust and a member of the EGPAF board of directors (Alyson Browett, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/6).