Hartnett Bridget1, Nakayima Liliane1, Niyingabira Julien1, Habarurema Gaspard1, Kayumba Malick1,*
1Rwanda Biomedical Center-Rwanda Health Communication Center (RBC-RHCC), Kigali, Rwanda
The 20th International Conference for AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2019), was an avenue to engage governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and key partners to hatch strategies and grow commitment in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
Visionary leadership has proved to be effective in ensuring health for all and nurturing the HIV/ AIDS response in line with achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets aimed at testing, treating, and ensuring viral load suppression among people living with HIV (PLHIV) on the continent and globally.
Leaders play a pivotal role in reducing the number of new HIV infections and protecting vulnerable groups, including women and adolescents. At the February 2019 African Union Summit, African leaders made a commitment to invest domestic resources in health.
At ICASA, leaders and partners reconvened to reinforce these commitments and provided an opportunity to enhance domestic funding from the public and private sectors. On this aspect, the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) championed by First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Jeannette KAGAME, met to assess the progress made in combating HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Leadership involvement: measurable impacts
Key achievements include the-free-to-shine campaign that reduced mother to child HIV transmission (MTCT) immensely in Botswana, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad; and sensitization of adolescent girls on reproductive health, which helped to reduce new infections.
Leadership comes at the forefront of decision making and funding sound policies that impact the health agenda and response towards ending HIV/AIDS. For instance, the government of Rwanda championed the fight against HIV/AIDS. As a result, Rwanda lists among one of the first countries to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets to end AIDS by 2030.