HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Monday during a two-day trip to Rwanda reiterated U.S. support for HIV/AIDS and malaria efforts in the country and called for sustainable relations between the two governments, the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports.
Leavitt and several U.S. officials are on a 10-day tour of four African countries to highlight programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative. They have visited South Africa and Mozambique and also plan to visit Tanzania.
Leavitt on Sunday visited PMI-funded projects in the Gasabo district of Rwanda's capital, Kigali, that are providing malaria treatment to children under age five. PMI also is helping health care workers who provide training courses to drug distributors.
"I saw that the programs are having an impact on the ground because every child with fever can get medicine," Leavitt said, adding, "They demonstrated to me that this was a very successful program." Leavitt also said that Rwandans should access HIV testing and counseling services and that the two countries will continue to work together to provide treatment to people living with the virus.
Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza on Monday after holding talks with Leavitt called for increased voluntary HIV and malaria testing in the country. He also said that Rwandan residents should adopt sustainable health behaviors to bolster the country's economic development. "We have held talks on how those programs are going on and how they will continue in the country," Makuza said, adding, "This is pertinent because when people are healthy they can easily empower themselves economically".
Leavitt before leaving the country is scheduled to visit HIV/AIDS and malaria programs supported by PEPFAR and PMI in Rwanda's Western province. According to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, the U.S. has provided about $167 million in official aid to the country in 2007, with the largest portion going to HIV/AIDS and malaria programs.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation