Rwanda is one of the most densely-populated countries in Africa. With an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country of 3.1 percent, Rwanda's government has made prevention, care, and treatment for HIV/AIDS a top priority. The government of Rwanda, in partnership with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other development partners, has made significant progress toward the goals of universal antiretroviral treatment access and elimination of mother-to-child transmission.
Rwanda's successful HIV programs are due in large part to the government's leadership. Whether it is an initiative to circumcise two million men by 2012, train 60,000 community health workers to care for Rwandans in every village, or provide access to services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission to 100 percent of pregnant women, Rwanda's government is instrumental in conceiving and implementing creative approaches to battling HIV/AIDS. Over 80 percent of HIV-infected people who are need of antiretroviral therapy receive it.
Rwanda's civil society also plays a significant role in this success. In every district in Rwanda, civil society groups implement HIV/AIDS programs for the general population, as well as programs that focus on women and girls, orphans and vulnerable children, youth, and other vulnerable populations. A recent example of this leadership is that in 2010, the annual award for Rwanda's best HIV prevention program from the Rwanda National AIDS Control Commission went to the civil society organization Association de Solidarite des Femmes Rwandais, which is funded through PEPFAR.
The Rwandan government's dedication to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the country is demonstrated by its efforts to coordinate with development partners, implementers, and other stakeholders. The Rwandan Ministry of Health chairs the Health Sector Working Group, which coordinates with local and international civil society and all of the bilateral and multilateral donors, in support of the National Health Sector Strategic Plan II. As the two largest contributors of HIV/AIDS funding, Global Fund and PEPFAR representatives collaborate closely in-country to ensure efficiency and leveraging of resources. The Rwandan government insures that all stakeholders are working in concert to provide HIV prevention, care and treatment programs to all its citizens, while strengthening Rwanda's health system for the long term.
The Rwandan government's strong leadership -- a factor in its selection as a Global Health Initiative-Plus (GHI+) country -- makes it a model for country ownership of health programs. "Vision 2020," a framework for Rwanda's development, presenting the key priorities and providing Rwandans with a guiding tool for where they want to be by the year 2020, and its supporting planning documents -- such as the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) and the Health Sector Strategy Plan (HSSP) -- create a structure by which all efforts are guided by a specific vision and strategy. This group effort, led by the Rwandan government, together with Rwandan civil society and international development partners, is the key to Rwanda's success.