Kigali, 31 August 2009

President Kagame today officially opened the 59th Session of the World Health Organisation Regional Committee for Africa taking place this week in Kigali. Among those attending are Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana and chairperson of “Champions for an HIV-Free Generation”, Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO regional director for Africa, as well members of the regional committee for Africa comprising 46 ministers of health.

In his keynote address to over 500 participants at the meeting, President Kagame said that the meeting offered an ideal opportunity to reflect on fundamental questions and as well solutions to Africa’s poor health systems and inadequate research capabilities. While acknowledging the importance of funding, President Kagame pointed out that other challenges need to be overcome in order to achieve set development objectives “…no amount of material or financial resources can transform a nation without a clear political and policy purpose, and a deliberate strategy and commitment to continuously improve the conditions of its most important national asset – the people.”

President Kagame highlighted Rwanda’s positive experience with Community Based Health Insurance and Perfomance Based Financing which have contributed to improved access and better quality care, as well as increased community ownership and participation in health care provision. President Kagame pointed out that this was a clear indication that Africa had the means to change its current status of healthcare “It is not pre-ordained that our continent must remain impoverished, illiterate, and in poor health – and if we can make the noted modest achievements in Rwanda, a country that is by no means rich, we can do even better regionally and continentally”.

Acknowledging development partners who shared Rwanda’s national vision and played an important role in Rwanda’s achievements, President Kagame called on African countries to view development aid as a transitional measure which should be executed with the critical elements of national policy ownership; shared oversight and accountability mechanisms; embedding in national development strategies and policy priorities; and built-in human and institutional re-enforcement in order to achieve more impact and sustainability.