“Open dialogue saves lives. Stigma and silence are real killers”
The opening ceremony for the 20th ICASA 2019 held in Kigali, Rwanda was graced by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Republic of Rwanda, and his Excellency Philip Nyusi, President of Mozambique. Also present were Dr Tedro, the General Director of World Health Organisation, Prof John Idoko President of the Society of AIDS in Africa, and different protocols in the house.
Prof Idoko gave participants a warm welcome and highlighted that HIV was a global epidemic that requires all nations, especially nations in Africa, to seek for domestic solutions. Such domestic investment in the country response will enhance sustainable development to achieve an AIDS free Africa as the theme of this year's conference. He said: The theme brings into sharp focus our commitment as a continent with support for our bilateral and multilateral partners who needs to be innovative and inclusive to achieve our set targets. He thanked partners and sponsors for the amazing contribution they made to support this conference and request they think innovatively about ways to address the threats still hindering the global vision for HIV elimination from being achieved.
Dr Diane Gashumba, the Honourable Minister of Health of the Republic of Rwanda, highlighted the successes Rwanda has made with controlling the HIV epidemic, and reminded participants that the conference provides the opportunity at the right time, learn from each other how to make the journey to Zero new HIV infection by 2030 a reality. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, noted that the theme of the 2019 ICASA shows us how far we have come with the HIV response. He encouraged countries to employ innovation, engage community and have strong political commitment to help reach the set global goals for AIDS elimination. He said: millions of people are on HIV treatment. Even better, millions of people are not on treatment because they have the tools to protect themselves. We have accelerated research and development. We have pushed back the boundaries of science and now in hot pursuit of a care.
His Excellency, the President of Rwanda, requested nations and programs should have people centred-care system where people's needs are listened too. Good use of infrastructure and technology, highly skilled medical professionals and the citizens will help countries make good success with their HIV response. The opening ceremony was then declared open with warm wishes to participants.
“Open dialogue saves lives. When it comes to sexually-transmitted infections, stigma and silence are real killers, just as much as the underlying viruses. ICASA exists in order to break down the taboos that impede prevention and early treatment. You are the ones to speak loudly, and clearly. We have come too far in this struggle, to do otherwise.”
President Kagame’s remarks at the 2019 International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa
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