BY DOREEN NASASIRA – 

Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has launched the National HIV and AIDS strategic plan 2020/21- 2024/25 and the International Conference for AIDS and Sexuality in Africa (ICASA).

The National HIV and AIDS strategic plan is a multi-sectoral stakeholder strategy anchored on the National Development Plan III and other International and Regional Obligations such as Sustainable Development Goals. It will run under the theme “Leaving no one towards Ending AIDS by 2030”, from the financial year 2020/2021 till the end of the 2024/2025 financial year. The plan was developed by the Uganda AIDS Commission and it focuses more on primary HIV prevention and reaching adolescent girls and young boys.

PM Rugunda(C)in a group photo with some of the key stakeholders that attended the launch of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan and ICASA at the OPM on Thursday(PMPU Photo)

The Premier also launched the International Conference for AIDS and Sexuality in Africa(ICASA), which will be hosted in the country in December 2021.

The launch was successfully held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala, on Thursday, during the 11th HIV and AIDS partnership forum, which was organized to take stock of the achievements that have been registered in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country.

The Premier said Uganda has made tremendous progress in combating the HIV and AIDS epidemic through a number of initiatives, leading to a reduction in the HIV prevalence rate from 18% in the early 1990s to 6% in 2019, and a reduction in the AIDS-related deaths from 60, 000 to 22,000 in the last 10 years among others.

He noted that President Yoweri Museveni has been at the forefront of fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic since 1986, by rallying all the stakeholders to create maximum advocacy to improving HIV awareness in communities.

In those early years, AIDS killed many Ugandans because of limited awareness and absence of lifesaving Anti- Retroviral Drugs to treat our people. As part of the NRM ideology, we established health for All agenda that saw the formation of the Uganda AIDS Commission by an Act of Parliament, to coordinate the multi-sectoral HIV and AIDS response in the country,” Dr. Rugunda said.

PM Rugunda launching the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan and the International Conference for AIDS and Sexuality(ICASA) on Thursday at OPM.(PMPU Photo)

He also noted that in 2007, the President launched the Presidential Fast –Track Initiative for Ending AIDS by 2030 in Uganda and it aims to; Engage men in HIV Prevention and close the tap on new infections particularly among adolescent girls and young women; Accelerate the implementation of ‘Test and Treat’ and attainment of the fast track 90-90-90 targets, particularly among men and young people; Consolidate the progress on the elimination of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV; Ensure financial sustainability for HIV and AIDS response, and Ensure institutional effectiveness for a well-coordinated multi-sectoral response.

The Premier, however, noted that despite the success registered in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the HIV prevalence remains high among women at 6.8% compared to that of men at 4.2%, while amongst the older adolescents and young people, the prevalence is almost four times higher than that of the females and males.

He also sighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has immensely affected people infected with HIV/ AIDS, and pledged the Government’s prioritization of HIV at the national agenda.

The Dean of School of Public Health Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, also highlighted on the impact of COVID-19 on the HIV interventions such as the disruption of supply chain and delivery during the lockdown among others, while the Chairperson of the National Forum of people living with HIV/ AIDS in Uganda, Dr. Stephen Watiti appreciated the mechanisms government has put in place to help the people living with HIV/ AIDS.

The forum was attended by a number of key stakeholders including the Chairperson and Board Members of Uganda AIDS Commission, the Director-General of Uganda AIDS Commission, Officials from UNAIDS, and UN Women among others.

Thursday, August 27, 2020