Ambassador Peter H. Vrooman Speech for Ministry of Health World AIDS Day Event in Musanze, Rwanda

  • Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Diane Gashumba
  • Governor of the Northern Province, Honorable Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi
  • Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, Dr. Jeanine Condo
  • Banyacyubahiro muteraniye hano,

Mwaramutse!  Today as we celebrate World AIDS Day, I can say with confidence and pride that by working together we have the ability to control the HIV epidemic in Rwanda by 2020.  This last mile, however, is going to take even greater leadership, unwavering commitment, and our collective focus to ensure every dollar invested in the fight against HIV/AIDS has the greatest impact possible.

In 2019, we celebrate the 15th anniversary in Rwanda of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.  Mu mwaka w’ ibihumbi bibiri na cumi n’icyenda, mu Rwanda turizihiza isabukuru y’imyaka cumi n’itanu ya gahunda idasanzwe ya Perezida wa Amerika igamije kurwanya SIDA, izwi nka PEPFAR.

The generosity of the American people and our collective public health engagement has saved more than 16 million lives worldwide and brought us closer than ever to con­trolling the HIV/AIDS pandemic – community-by-community, country-by-country.  Achieving epidemic control will not only save more lives but also reduce the future costs of the fight against HIV/AIDS

When former U.S. President George W. Bush launched PEPFAR in 2003, this remarkable progress was hard to imagine.  Prior to PEPFAR, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence in many countries, and entire families were falling ill.  Most of the previous gains in global health were being lost, and the very fabric of societies was ripped apart by the loss of teachers, medical professionals, and community supporters.  In the hardest-hit regions of sub-Saharan Africa, infant mortality dou­bled, child mortality tripled, and life expectancy dropped by 20 years.  Only 50,000 people in Africa had access to any lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

Faced with these dire circumstances, the United States responded.

The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has invested more than $80 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response, the largest commitment made by any nation to address a single disease.  In Rwanda, PEPFAR has invested more than $1.2 billion to fight and treat HIV/AIDS since 2004. Mu Rwanda guhera mu mwaka w’ibihumbi bibiri na kane, (PEPFAR)  yakoresheje amadorari asaga miriyari imwe mu  kurwanya icyorezo cya SIDA no kuvura abantu babana na virusi  itera SIDA.  By focusing resources where the HIV burden was the greatest, and the most im­pact could be achieved, PEPFAR has delivered remarkable results in Rwanda in just 15 years.

Here in Rwanda, we are proud to collaborate with the Ministry of Health, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, people living with HIV, and many others.  Together, our efforts have put Rwanda in the best position to end HIV.

This year alone, PEPFAR in Rwanda has supported:

  • First: Anti-retroviral treatment for more than 98,000 positive persons;
  • Second: Voluntary medical male circumcision for more than 150,000 men;
  • Third: Almost one million HIV tests;
  • Fourth: Care for over 100,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers.

Muri uyu mwaka wonyine, PEPFAR yateye inkunga u Rwanda muri ibi bikurikira:

  • Icya mbere: gutanga imiti igabanya ubukana bwa virusi itera SIDA ku bantu hafi ibihumbi ijana; Birashimishije!
  • Icya kabiri: Serivisi zo kwicyebesha ku bushake ku bagabo zahawe abagabo ibihumbi magana imwe na mirongw’itanu; Birashimishije!
  • Icya gatatu: Abantu hafi miliyoni imwe bipimishije ku bushake virusi itera SIDA; Birashimishije!
  • Icya kane: Muri Gahunda yita ku bana bugarijwe n’ ibibazo ndetse n’ ababarera, hafashijwe   abasaga ibihumbi ijana. Birashimishije!

PEPFAR’s transformative, lifesaving impact is irrefutable.

In fact, with U.S. government support and collaboration with many partners, Rwanda is on pace to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2020.  PEPFAR is a remarkable example of what is possible when we join hands with countries and communities.  Together, we have the historic opportunity to make what once seemed impossible possible.

To celebrate the fifteen years of PEPFAR in Rwanda, we are hosting a series of events and discussions about PEPFAR and the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout 2019, featuring a film illustrating how PEPFAR has helped people living with HIV/AIDS to live a healthy and productive life.  The film will be available on the U.S. Embassy Kigali website and through my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  I encourage you to follow me on social media receive updates on the locations of these events.  We will also screen the film in communities around Rwanda.

Thank you, and let’s keep fighting together to reach HIV/AIDS epidemic control!

Murakoze!  Muze dushyire hamwe twese dukomeze kurwanya icyorezo cya SIDA.