Rwanda HIV Clinical Services Program (HCSP) End of Project Event is a Success

By Cornelia van Zyl | December 28, 2012

Presentations at HCSP EOP event.

EGPAF

On December 12, more than 200  people – including implementing partners, NGO representatives, donors, mayors, district hospital staff, media, and Rwanda Ministry of Health officials – gathered to mark the conclusion of the five-year HIV Clinical Services Program (HCSP) at the Nobleza Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. The event was organized by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), FHI 360, and IntraHealth International in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), and the Rwandan Ministry of Health (MOH).

After a reception and gallery walk of posters, photographs, and display tables, Lynn Adrian, the USAID health team director, and Dr. Parfait Uwaliraye, director general, planning at the MOH, gave opening remarks, highlighting the HCSP’s remarkable accomplishments. This was followed by an overview of the HCSP given by USAID and presentations on the HCSP’s achievements across health systems strengthening, HIV clinical prevention, HIV-related care and treatment, maternal and child health (including gender-based violence and nutrition), and family planning and integration services. Participants had the opportunity to direct questions to a panel of technical staff representing the three implementing partners. The panel elaborated on the strategies used to achieve strong clinical service delivery results and priorities for the future.

The event’s closing ceremony honored the leadership and contributions of each of the 17 districts under the HCSP, and featured performances focusing on the need to eliminate HIV/AIDS. Tom Close, a popular Rwandan musician and a group of talented youth then took the stage for a rendition of the advocacy song “Some Day”, leaving participants with a message of hope for “a generation free of AIDS”. With the legacy of the HCSP, and EGPAF’s future work in Rwanda, the dream of a generation free of AIDS is edging closer to reality in Rwanda.

Over the life of the project, HCSP supported 163 health institutions in 18 districts and Kigali City. The combined efforts of EGPAF, FHI 360, and IntraHealth helped to provide 450,000 women with services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. Over 10,000 HIV-exposed infants were tested for HIV, and more than 2000 that tested positive for HIV received treatment. More than 4,300 adults and 3,903 children received antiretroviral treatment (ART) by the end of the project in September 2012.

“The HIV Clinical Services Program in Rwanda has made an outstanding contribution to the response to HIV and AIDS in our country,” said Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s Minister of Health.  “We appreciate the efforts of EGPAF, FHI 360, and IntraHealth in building the capacity of districts and health care providers to expand high-quality clinical services and recognize the financial support received from the U.S. government, through PEPFAR/USAID.”

“The Rwandan Ministry of Health has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the welfare of women, children, and communities in Rwanda,” said Charles Lyons, EGPAF’s president and CEO.  “We appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the innovative policies and programs that are helping Rwandans to avert new HIV infections in children while helping infected children and their parents access life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART).”

"We, at FHI 360, are honored to have had the opportunity, through HCSP, to reinforce and expand upon the gains made under previous HIV prevention, care treatment and mitigation projects that we have been managing in Rwanda since 1993,” said Albert Siemens, CEO of FHI 360. "We believe that sustainability comes from building the capacity of individuals, communities, and countries to address their needs. We are grateful to USAID, the Rwanda Biomedical Center and Ministry of Health, provincial and district level authorities, and our strategic and implementing partners who, together, made this program a success."

“We are proud to support Rwanda’s strong national health programs, including its national HIV/AIDS program, focusing on prevention, care, and treatment,” said Pape Gaye, president and CEO of IntraHealth International.  He added, “We have been privileged to work in close partnership with the districts of Gasabo, Gicumbi, Nyagatare and Rulindo to help the MOH build capacity of district hospitals and health centers to provide quality HIV/AIDS and other health services for improved patient care. IntraHealth has appreciated the Rwanda government’s strong leadership and vision, support from USAID Rwanda, and the collaborative stakeholder partnerships that have improved the lives of so many Rwandans.”

The work of HCSP will continue in a new form through the USAID-supported Rwanda Family Health Project (RFHP).This new project will build on the foundation established by the HCSP with the purpose of building the capacity of Rwandan institutions to deliver high-quality family health services. Family health services include an integrated package of services related to family planning and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, maternal, neonatal and child health; malaria prevention and treatment; nutrition; safe water and hygiene; and tuberculosis treatment. The RFHP will build local capacity, promote healthy behaviors, increase the use of health services, and strengthen linkages between and within community health facilities.

Cornelia van Zyl is Country Director for the Foundation, based in Kigali, Rwanda.