Stellenbosch University conferred an honorary doctorate on the distinguished Rwandan paediatrician Prof Agnes Binagwaho at its December graduation. She was awarded the degree Doctor of Science (DSc), honoris causa, in absentia on Tuesday (6 December 2022) at an in-person graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Binagwaho was honoured for her visionary leadership as a national and global policymaker, her commitment to a stronger public health sector, her pioneering work advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and for leveraging her knowledge to launch scientific and citizen-centred endeavours in Africa and beyond. She has made remarkable contributions to improving the health and well-being of people in Rwanda and the rest of Africa.
More about Binagwaho
Born in Rwanda, Prof Agnes Binagwaho moved to Belgium as a child. Here she later obtained her medical degree and specialised in paediatrics before returning to her native country in 1996 – two years after the Rwandan genocide. She proceeded to hold several high-level government offices, including that of health minister.
She has been a tireless advocate for the rights of persons living with HIV/Aids and led the Rwandan National Aids Control Commission from 2002 to 2008. Under her supervision, the commission connected public, private and community sectors to provide better HIV care, resulting in a 44% decrease in HIV-related deaths, while new infections were halved.
During her time as health minister (2011–2016), Rwanda's health system improved significantly: The country achieved nearly universal coverage with a national community-health-based insurance scheme, significant decreases in maternal and neonatal mortality, increased life expectancy and high childhood vaccination rates.
She is the current vice-chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, as well as a senior lecturer at Harvard. Binagwaho also serves as senior advisor to the director-general of the World Health Organisation and is a member of the United States National Academy of Medicine.