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Rwanda targets zero HIV stigma and discrimination by 2020

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has reaffirmed its commitment to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination among HIV positive persons by 2020, says Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

HIV-related stigma and discrimination continues to endanger Rwandans living with HIV, and it still prevents people from coming forward for testing, prevention and treatment services.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ribarakare Mpundu, an officer in charge of care and treatment at RBC said that stigma associated with HIV and AIDS causes some people to deny the risks of infection and avoid being tested, while others hide their infection and avoid seeking support and treatment.

“We are looking forward to various campaigns to mobilize people to end HIV stigma and link them to stigma-free HIV testing, treatment and care by 2020. We believe that if all the infected people would follow guidance and take their treatment seriously, no one would be dying of the virus,” he added.

Mpundu noted that between 2010 and 2015 about 50 cases of people living with HIV reported to have faced stigma.

Available statistics from the Rwanda ministry of health indicate HIV prevalence stands at 3.1 percent in the country.

At least 10,000 people are infected with the virus every year. About 80,200 infected people are on anti-retroviral drugs, the ministry statistics add.

The ministry says 81 percent of the HIV-positive persons have been responding positively to treatment extended to them through various channels.

Last year, the government of Rwanda launched the Treat All programme aiming at putting on treatment whoever tests HIV positive.

The campaign seeks to end any form of stigma and discrimination associated with the virus.


Experts call for harmonized standards for staple foods in Africa

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Experts have urged African economies to harmonize standards for staple foods on the continent in order to promote and increase intra-African trade in grains and cereals.

They made the call on Thursday during a regional meeting on staple foods standards in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Africa staple foods include among others cereals, grains and potatoes.

Rwanda hosts the East African Community (EAC) member states meeting on EAC staple food standards harmonization from February 27th-3rd march 2017.

The five-day forum focuses on considering of public review feedback on the draft EAC staple foods standards in order to promote and increase cross border trade.

In 2013, the EAC countries agreed on the recommended moisture content for cereals and grains in the region in a bid deliver improved food security to its citizens through increased regional trade.

“Harmonized staples food standards in Africa will play a major role in promoting intra-African trade through removing technical barriers to trade hence ensuring food security on the continent,” said, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, secretary general, African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) at the meeting.

He noted that lack of standards is not good for trade, because high costs and unpredictable rules make trade difficult and discourage investments by small farmers in increasing productivity and large investments by private companies in input supply and food marketing.

At the conference experts concurred that facilitating continental trade through harmonized food standards is vital for reducing poverty and meeting Africa’s growing demand for staple foods.

Importing sufficient amounts of staple food could cost the continent upwards of 150 billion U.S dollars per year by 2030.

The meeting brought together technical experts and hands-on practitioners of the standards, representing both public and private sectors, from all EAC partner countries and beyond to consider the proposals received on the specific parameters of the Standards and adopt a common position on the standards.



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