Engaging Traditional and Cultural Institutions in the Roll Out of the Presidential Fast Track HIV Initiative
Since the national launch of the Presidential Fast Track Initiative on Ending AIDS as a public health threat in Uganda by 2030 in June 2017, Uganda AIDS Commission has been coordinating its implementation through several stakeholders at national and regional levels.
Key among the stakeholders are the traditional and cultural institutions whose mandate is community mobilization for maternal child health services, family planning, preventing sexual and gender-based violence and HIV prevention. Cultural institutions are also mandated to mobilize resources to contribute to funding HIV related programmes.
The overall goal of the Presidential Fast Track Initiative is to achieve HIV epidemic control and eliminate AIDS as a public health threat in Uganda by 2030. The initiative aims to ensure that nobody is left behind and focuses on a five-point plan:
a) to engage men in HIV prevention and close the tap on new infections particularly among adolescent girls and young women;
b) to accelerate implementation of Test and Treat and attainment of the fast track 90-90-90 targets particularly among men and young people;
c) to consolidate progress on elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV;
d) to ensure financial sustainability for the HIV and AIDS response and
e) to ensure institutional effectiveness for a wellcoordinated multi-sectoral response.
In recognition of cultural institutions as a crucial platform for the mobilization of communities and a critical stakeholder for effective HIV response, Uganda AIDS Commission held eight cultural engagements during roll-out of the Fast Track initiative.
They were Kumbania ya Bugwere and Inzu ya Masaaba in Eastern Uganda, the Karamoja Elders Association in Karamoja sub-region, Buganda Kingdom, Ker Kwaro Alur in West Nile sub-region, Busoga Kingdom in mid-eastern Uganda, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom in mid-western Uganda, Acholi Chiefdom and Lango Cultural Trust in Northern Uganda and Isingiro District in South Western Uganda. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY
Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa’ Busoga’s (OBB) Responds to HIV and AIDS in Busoga Sub-region
The Global and National theme for this year’s World AIDS Day, ``Live life positively: know your HIV status’’ and ``This is the time to know your HIV status’’ respectively resonated well with the efforts of Busoga Kingdom traditionally known as Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa’ Busoga (OBB) to end AIDS as a public health threat in Busoga.
Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa’ Busoga (OBB) is a cultural institution covering ten districts of Busoga sub-region in Eastern Uganda: Jinja, Buyende, Kamuli, Kaliro, Iganga, Mayuge, Luuka, Namutumba, Bugiri and Namayingo. Busoga has 11 chiefdoms, 350 clans and 750,000 households populated by almost four million people.
The Basoga are the third largest ethnic group in Uganda constituting more than 10% of the country’s population. Over 90% of the population in Busoga lives in rural areas and most people are strongly traditional in their way of life.
Administratively, the Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa’ Busoga cultural structure is parallel to government administration but extend to reach every household and individual through the clan system. The chiefdoms thus serve as self-containing systems within which the clan system operates.
The chiefdom and clan structure are a valid institution to address the challenges people and communities face. The Busoga cultural leadership plays an important role in influencing community perspectives, attitudes as well as mobilizing demand and utilization of health and social services.
Clan governance is fundamentally about building of the cultural institution, clan networks and processes that deliver well organized action and genuine decision-making control to people in Busoga over the issues of most importance to their lives and future communities.
This makes OBB a great mobilization tool for health programming in general and HIV programming. Busoga is not yet doing very well in as far as combating HIV and AIDS is concerned. Recent assessment indicates a dismal drop in HIV prevalence rate from 5.2 percent posted from a five-year study which commenced in 2009 to 4.7 percent in 2017. According to the 2016-17 UPHIA results, HIV prevalence in Busoga stands at 4.7 per cent as compared with the national prevalence rate which stands at 6.2 per cent among adults aged between 15 and 64 years old. This is still high in the context that by region, the lowest prevalence rate is at 3.1 per cent while the highest is at 8.0 per cent.
In terms of viral load suppression Busoga posted the lowest suppression rate at 48.8 per cent whereas the highest viral load suppression rate is at 70 per cent. What this means is that many people in Busoga subregion can pass on the HIV virus and infect others and therefore if not sufficiently and timely addressed we are likely to see a rise in new infections in Busoga sub-region. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY
Bunyoro and Buganda send out New Year Message to Fight HIV/AIDS
In regards to the eff ects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, a lot of work has been done to sensiti ze men, women and especially the youth on the viciousness of the enemy and on how to deal with this scourge. We have been greatly assisted in our eff orts by the Nabagereka and other Buganda Kingdom insti tuti ons.
There is now an awareness that for those unfortunate to be living with HIV and AIDS, they can live a normal span of life if they take the medicati on which is now available at aff ordable prices. We emphasize in the media, health camps, clan meeti ngs, and wherever the opportunity presents itself that living with HIV and AIDS is not a death sentence and urge all our people to eschew stigmatization.
Now that people know how the disease is contracted and spread there is no reason why those living with HIV and AIDS should be shunned. So, today there is a harmonious relati onship in our communiti es between those living with HIV and AIDS and those who are not. Buganda Kingdom has established an excellent relati onship with UNAIDS, JCRC, UAC and the Ministry of Health of the Uganda Government and together a lot has been achieved and the incidence of HIV and AIDS has reduced from 7.3% to 5.5%.
We have undertaken policy pronouncements on the reduction of HIV and AIDS infecti on; sexually transmitt ed diseases, women dying in child birth, premature pregnancies, domesti c violence and family planning. All these issues are related and our people need to pay att enti on to all of them in order to remain healthy and productive.
Most people in the kingdom and in Uganda own or have access to radios and even mobile phones, T.V. coverage is also increasing and we carry our HIV and AIDS campaign on CBS radio and BBS TV Telefayina. We hope to extend messages on mobile phones in due course. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY