United States Congressional Delegation Visits Rwanda

Originally published on August 26, 2015.


Staff from our USAID-funded Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Program II (RDCP II) discussed the program's impact with congressional delegation members during their visit to Rwanda. From L to R: US Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles, RDCP II Chief of Party Dennis Karamuzi, Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN), and RDCP II Cooperative Specialist and Gender Advisor Alice Bamusiime.

The following article first appeared on Rwanda's The New Times website on August 26, 2015.

A bipartisan congressional delegation from the United States led by Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and including Bono, founder of ONE Campaign and RED, is in Rwanda for a three-day visit.

Yesterday, President Paul Kagame hosted the delegation at Urugwiro Village, where many of the congress members commended Rwanda for its progress in the last 20 years, citing gender parity and the successful fight against HIV/AIDS as key examples.

The delegation also visited the Kigali Central University Teaching Hospital, commonly known as CHUK.

The delegation was particularly moved by the steps Rwanda took to contain and prevent HIV/AIDS, as well as keeping track of HIV patients on anti-retroviral treatment so as to minimise hospital admissions resulting from AIDS complications.

A tour around the hospital and a visit to some of the departments/wards provided an opportunity for the team to know more about what concerted efforts from different partnerships have reaped and the impact of such partnerships and funding, especially from the Global Fund and the US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Rwanda.

Dr Theobald Hategekimana, the director-general of CHUK, explained that admissions for HIV patients dropped from 128 to 60 today.

He attributed the improvement to initiating HIV patients to ARVs therapy, capacity building for district health centres, as well as outreach programmes to prevent and treat HIV patients.

However, he noted that there is more to be done and Rwanda still needs to be supported in its efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The State Minister of Primary Health and Public Health, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, credited ARVs with giving hope to those who are HIV-positive.

“AIDS is no longer a death sentence. People can come out and declare their HIV status, just like they can talk about any different disease,” said Dr Ndimubanzi.

The delegation includes Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and his spouse Franni Bryson and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

In addition to Bono, the lead singer of U2 and co-founder of The ONE Campaign and (RED), the delegation included members of the RED and ONE Campaign team.

Created in 2006, RED works to involve the corporate sector to fight AIDS in Africa.

They partner with businesses that contribute up to 50% of their profits to fight AIDS through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

So far, RED has generated close to US$ 300 million to fund HIV/AIDS programmes in Africa that have impacted the lives of more than 60 million.

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