In Rwanda, the Foundation has made a difference
December 13, 2010
The 6th National Pediatric Conference on children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Rwanda
took place on November 17-19th. Attracting more than 400 policy makers, international and national researchers, children, health care providers, development partners and NGOs including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, participants focused on the role of different sectors in the fight against AIDS, with great emphasis on the education sector.
We were privileged to have two of our own Foundation colleagues present keynote speeches. Mary Pat Kieffer, Global Director PMTCT and Prevention, and Dr. Denis Tindyebwa, Global Director Pediatric Care and Treatment, both spoke on the third day of the conference. Mary Pat spoke about the focus on enhancing uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)
services of HIV in light of the Ministry of Health’s agenda to eliminate pediatric HIV and AIDS, and Dr. Tindyebwa presented on Pediatric Care and Treatment
globally. All the recommendations they made during the conference were included into the national Pediatric Conference recommendations which will be put into an action plan early next year.
Recommendations on PMTCT include: collaborate with other sectors on interventions for early prevention of HIV among our youth, provide appropriate messaging for adolescents, strengthen the knowledge and skills of health care providers to convey the correct messages to women, and increase coverage of integrated pre-natal, PMTCT and family planning services, among others.
Foundation staff met with Rwanda's Minister of Health during the Pediatric Conference
(Left-to-right: Dr. Mary Pat Kieffer, Dr. Richard Sezibera [Minister of Health], Dr. Denis Tindyebwa,
Cornelia van Zyl, Dr. Diane Gashumba, Dr. Sowaf Ubarijoro)
Recommendations for care and treatment include: integrate clinical assessment of children to improve Early Infant Diagnosis, speed up the implementation of specific programs for care of adolescents living with HIV, train and mentor nurses on pediatric care and treatment in the task shifting framework, promote close collaboration between health and education sectors, and develop a framework between the health and education sectors to ensure that the HIV testing policy for school going children is established and implemented with support of parents and guardians, among others.
At the end of the conference, the Foundation’s Country Director in Rwanda, Cornelia Van Zyl, was selected to present awards to conference participants who prepared the best abstracts and those who have been active in HIV activities.
The Foundation and other organizations working in Rwanda displayed technical and promotional materials for conference goers and others to see. My colleague Gemma, Technical Officer in charge of pediatric psychosocial care, and I set up the Foundation table and talked to people who stopped by to learn more about our work. Our table was wrapped with a banner displaying our logo, and included posters, brochures, issue briefs, HIV infected children’s stories booklets, and Foundation bags. We also had two poster presentations on display at the conference: “Evaluation of the nutritional status of HIV exposed children in the IYCF: PMTCT program” and “Psychosocial support at HIV positive children’s camps: EGPAF’s experience.”
Many conference participants stopped to visit our table, curious to look closer at what was displayed. On the second day we handed out our children’s stories booklets to children attending the conference. The stories in the booklet were written by HIV-positive children and as such had special meaning for the children attending the conference.
The conference was a great success for the Foundation and for all those involved with and concerned with the elimination of pediatric HIV/AIDS.
Esperance Nikuze is a Communications Officer for the Foundation, based in Kigali, Rwanda.