Mr. Dieudonne Hakizimana
Founder, Association pour lutte contre les hepatitis virales “ALHV”
I am delighted that we can now talk about viral hepatitis in Burundi and work towards elimination, because we did nothing before. I am proud to be one of the people with hepatitis who have helped other patients. I gave all that I had for this noble mission, and my commitment is renewed from day to day by the opportunity to eliminate viral hepatitis.
Mr. Dieudonne Hakizimana, the founder of Association pour lutte contre les hepatitis virales “ALHV,” is a leader in the fight against viral hepatitis in Burundi. He has been a tireless advocate since 2000 when he lost his little brother to hepatitis B and realized he was a hepatitis B carrier. Not long after his father also sadly passed away from liver cancer attributable to hepatitis C.
Since he knew first-hand the consequences of discrimination, stigma, and lack of awareness around hepatitis, Mr. Hakizimana was determined to change the lives of others through coordinating hepatitis screening campaigns and education sessions in hospitals, maternity clinics, and outpatient clinics. He also is known for helping individuals navigate the health system to start hepatitis B and C treatment.
In parallel to his community work, Mr. Hakizimana worked with the government to expand hepatitis services nationally. In 2013, he sent a letter to the Minister of Health requesting he recognize viral hepatitis as a real public health threat. As a result, the Ministry made the decision to integrate hepatitis to the chronic non-communicable disease program, which expanded resources to fight the virus for the first time. In 2015, when the country went through a period of political tension and several figures from civil society fled the country while others were killed or imprisoned, Mr. Hakizimana only doubled down on activities to fight hepatitis. These persistent advocacy efforts culminated in the Ministry of Health releasing the country’s first national strategy on hepatitis, Burundi Viral Hepatitis Strategic Plan 2018-2022, in 2018.
Watch this interview with Dieudonne to learn more about his background and his work in Burundi: