By Pascal Kwesiga and Nicholas Wassajja
Scientists from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have partnered with a US institute of medicine to explore ways of addressing intimate partner violence in the region.
The World Health Organization defines intimate partner violence as the behavior of the current or former intimate partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm. This also includes physical aggression, sexual coercion and psychological abuse.
Intimate partner violence, according to scientists, is a wide spread problem that has often been overlooked yet many people especially ladies continue to suffer from this form meted against them by the current or ex partners.
According to Dr. Patrick Kelly, the head of the US institute of medicine, the agency has received “a fat grant” from Melinda Gates Foundation to work with the Uganda national academy of sciences and other science academies in the region to conduct comprehensive research about the “rising phenomenon.”
“This is a problem that has been overlooked because many people talk about domestic violence. We are going to support science academies in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to explore the causes and solutions to this problem,” he said during a meeting with scientists from the three East African countries in Kampala on Monday.
Kelly, who did not disclose the amount of money earmarked for the anti-intimate partner violence campaign, explained that science academies will be supported to undertake studies to produce evidence based recommendations to address the problem. “We hope that they will be able to provide governments and policy makers with evidence-informed research and solutions to their problem,” he said.
Quoting a recent WHO study, Kelly said between 15% and 71% of women in developing countries are affected by intimate partner violence.
According to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2011, 56% of women between the ages of 15 to 49 experience physical violence while 28% face sexual violence every year.
Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, the principal, College of Health Sciences Makerere University said, the research studies that will be undertaken by the scientists will seek to get to the “bottom” of the intimate partner violence in Uganda.
Sewankambo, who is also the president of the Uganda national academy of sciences said “We intend to undertake serious studies and produce findings to help the government make sense of this problem."