President Yoweri Museveni has called for more efforts geared towards mitigating the remaining bottlenecks in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, especially the 52,000 new HIV infections.
Majority of these infections are among young people especially girls and young women while some 4,500 new HIV infections are among children below 15 years.
The call by the President was delivered by the Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi on Thursday during the central region stakeholder’s evaluation, engagement and accountability forum.
The forum held at Kalungu Girls Training Centre in Kalungu town council was part of the Presidential fast track initiative to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030.
It ran under the theme “Reaching men, girls and young women to reduce new HIV infections” and brought together leaders from various institutions from 23 districts besides local residents who got engrossed in the entire procession.
While delivering the President’s message, Ssekandi noted with concern that girls and young women are getting the new infections from older men and that a big number of men are dying of AIDS related illnesses due to failure to seek health care especially HIV testing and timely treatment.
The President urged men across the country to embrace the Presidential Initiative and participate in programs relating to fighting against HIV. He expressed optimism that the goal of eliminating HIV in Uganda by 2030 is possible.
Museveni commended the efforts of cultural and religious leaders who have been actively involved in the sensitizing the public on the prevention HIV, but asked that they amplify their voices since they are well heard and listened to by the communities.
The HIV Situation Report released in February last year indicated that HIV prevalence had declined from 7.3% in 2011 to 6% in 2017. Similarly, it reported a significant reduction in number of new infections among adults from 99,000 in 2010 to 52,000 in 2016 as well as a drop in new infections among children, from 26,000 in 2010 to 4,600 in 2016.
A total of 230 new infections are registered every day while 76 people die every day of HIV, according to the same report.
The Minister for the Presidency, Esther Mbayo while speaking at the event said that engaging men to be at the forefront in the fight against HIV is central to the initiative by President Museveni.
She added that the initiative seeks to close the gap in new infections especially among girls and young women by accelerating test and treat programme, and consolidating the gains made in the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Kalungu West Member of Parliament Joseph Sewungu requested government to focus on building equipping and staffing existing missionary hospitals like Villa Maria.
He called for the re-introduction of daily school assemblies in schools to stress the message of HIV prevention whose impact will be crucial since youth spend three quarters of the year at school than at home.
It is estimated that 36.7 million people are living with HIV world over (UNAIDS 2016) with 1.2 to1.5 million of these people living in Uganda.