By Pascal Kwesiga
The number of babies born with HIV/AIDS has reduced to 8,000 from 15,000 in 2012, according to the new annual ministry of health performance report.
The report covers the period between 2012 and 2013. Heath ministry officials and its partners have attributed the success to the amplified Elimination of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (EMTCT) spearheaded by the office of the First Lady Janet Museveni and the ministry.
The number of infections in newborns reduced to 15,000 in 2012, from 25,000 in the previous five years.
Addressing a press briefing at media center in Kampala, the director general of health services, Dr. Jane Aceng, said there are health facilities that have not recorded any HIV+ babies for the last consecutive years.
She expressed optimism that Uganda would achieve the ambitious target of zero HIV infections or 3% of babies born with HIV by 2015.
The First Lady, Aceng said has launched the EMTCT programs and rallied the people behind the fight against HIV/AIDS in all regions of Uganda in the last two years. She explained that Janet Museveni will hold a rally at Kololo Independence grounds on Friday (February 28) during which she will launch the EMTCT program for Kampala.
The EMTCT services which include primary prevention of HIV infection in reproduction population, family planning for HIV infected women, initiation of all pregnant women living with HIV on triple treatment for life-long treatment otherwise known as option B+ and provision of care and treatment for mothers and children, Aceng, said can be found at all public health facilities in the country.
“We have taken these services to as far as health center II’s. We call upon all Ugandans to take advantage of these services so that the country can realized its objective,” she said.
Flanked by the UNAIDS country director Musa Bungudu, Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDS in Africa country director John B. Mugisa and other health officials, Aceng, noted that the fight against HIV/AIDS has reached a tipping point, with the number of people on treatment higher than new infections.
According to the 2011 National HIV Indicator Survey, the HIV prevalence rate stands at 7.3 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in the 2004-2005 survey.
The survey also indicted that the number of new HIV infections had risen from 124,000 in 2009 to 128,000 in 2010 and to 145,000 in 2011 respectively.
“We put 190,000 people on drugs last year and we plan to put 200,000 on treatment this year. The number of people we are putting on drugs is higher than those new infections each year and this means were are reducing the viral load in the community,” Aceng said.
In light of the successes recorded so far, Bungudu, said Uganda was regaining its leadership position in the fight against AIDS. “Countries are asking how we can learn from Uganda. The leadership is back on course and very soon the new infections in babies may be 500.”
Uganda, he explained has the capacity to fund the fight against AIDS saying “Uganda is a rich country. Heavy dependence on external assistance is risky and we call upon the authorities to provide leadership and resources.”
Beat Bisangwa, the director of EMTCT in the office of the first lady, called up the people of Kampala to attend the Friday rally at Kololo to receive services and information about the scourge.
“She (First Lady) is grateful to all Ugandans who have embraced the campaign,” Bisangwa said.