Monday, 8 December 2014

UNASO welcomes President Museveni's launch of massive HIV prevention and treatment campaign

The Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO) welcomes President Museveni's launch of massive HIV prevention. Below is the President's speech on Word AIDS Day held in Kabarole District.
The Celebrations to mark World AIDS day in Uganda were held in Fort Portal Town, Kabarole District at Boma Grounds
Full Text of speech below:
Hon. Ministers Present
Hon. Members of Parliament,
The Omukama of Toro
The Chairman, Uganda AIDS Commission,
Your Excellencies, The Ambassadors,
Representatives of Development Partners
Representatives of Local Governments
Representatives of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS
Representatives of Young People
Distinguished Delegates & all invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to this important function as we commemorate World AIDS Day 2014. It is another important opportunity for us to join hands and remember our people who have succumbed to the AIDS scourge and also show solidarity with those affected by the disease. It is also the time to take stock of our achievements in our determination, identify existing gaps, and struggle to conquer the epidemic.


As you are aware, the Government of Uganda through Uganda AIDS Commission and in collaboration with and wide consultations with stakeholders, prepared the four year National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2011/12 – 2014/15 (NSP) and the National HIV Prevention Strategy 2011 – 2015 which have guided the national HIV/AIDS response in the last 3 years. I am informed that these strategies have recently been reviewed and shown that we have registered significant achievements in the fight against the disease in the recent past. 

In the last three years alone, there has been a reduction in the number of people found to have new HIV infections - from 162,000 in 2011 to 137,000 in 2013. Between July 2013 and June 2014, a total of 179,468 people were enrolled on antiretroviral treatment exceeding the number of new infections in the same duration. 


At the end of June 2014, we had 680,514 people on treatment out of the 1,447,859 people who require treatment. This shows a marked improvement in coverage compared with the situation 10 years ago when only 40,000 Ugandans were enrolled on treatment. Because of this expanded coverage in treatment, AIDS related deaths have also significantly reduced. 

The implementation of other interventions under the National HIV Prevention Strategy have also gained significant momentum and yielded results. I would like to particularly mention the programme of Elimination of Mother To Child Transmission of HIV (EMTCT) which is spearheaded by Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni. In this programme, we have worked closely with partners to implement the Elimination Plan.


We have rolled out the new guidelines and reached out to more mothers and their babies in all parts of the country and averted many new HIV infections in children born to HIV positive mothers. In 2013, about 15,000 babies were born infected with HIV compared to 28,000 babies in 2008. This number is projected to fall to 8,000 at the end of 2014 with the current scale up plan. I would therefore, like to thank all those involved in the implementation of the national HIV/AIDS response and encourage them to double efforts for better results.

I commend efforts of the different cultural and religious leaders who have also been actively involved in the HIV prevention efforts. They should keep these efforts since their voices are listened to the communities that they serve.

Despite all the accomplishments, more work still needs to be done. The proportion of the population with HIV/AIDS at an average of 7.3% remains unacceptably high. The annual burden of 137,000 new HIV infections implies that every single day 380 of our people are getting infected with the virus. This situation is grossly unacceptable. I am informed that there is a disproportionate burden of the epidemic in certain populations such as fishing communities, long distance truckers, sex workers, and uniformed service men, and that they are not well covered with services because they are not easy to reach. Many of our people who are eligible for treatment are yet to be reached. We should therefore work harder to ensure that all our people are reached with HIV/AIDS services.

We need to specifically target the young people with clear HIV/AIDS messages. I am glad to learn that a message clearing committee has been set up at Uganda AIDS Commission to scrutinize all HIV/AIDS messages that are disseminated to our communities. I would therefore like to call on Uganda AIDS Commission to ensure that this committee is fully utilized.

The HIV/AIDS response requires committed, strong and sustained involvement of Political, religious as well as cultural leadership. I therefore urge all these leaders to lead by example. Make sure you test for HIV and know your status. This is the only way through which you will be able to access the appropriate services to live longer in case you test positive. You will also receive counseling and other services to assist you to stay HIV negative if your test is negative. By doing this, you will encourage the people under your leadership to follow and reap the benefits of exemplary leadership. 

I take this opportunity to thank all our AIDS development partners and their respective Governments for generously contributing to the financing of the national HIV/AIDS response. I appeal to you to work through and align your support with the established Government systems for sustainability.
The Government of Uganda will work towards sustainability of the current HIV/AIDS investments. You are fully aware that the recently enacted HIV/AIDS act 2014 provides for setting up of the National HIV/AIDS Trust Fund. I am therefore calling on the concerned government organs to speed up the process of setting up and functionalizing this fund. 

Finally, I would like to call on all of you to re direct our efforts to prevention. The mode of spread of HIV is well known to all of us and it was through addressing this that we registered tremendous achievements in the 1990s. We should gear our efforts towards having zero new infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination in the fight against the scourge. As the National theme of World AIDS Day this year states, this is a responsibility of each and all of us. 


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