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Shake up UAC to stop more HIV infections

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th September 2009 03:00 AM

If we want to avert more HIV/AIDS infections in Uganda, I have no doubt in my mind that the immediate step is for the President to immediately shake-up the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).

If we want to avert more HIV/AIDS infections in Uganda, I have no doubt in my mind that the immediate step is for the President to immediately shake-up the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).

By Dr. Martin Ssempa's

If we want to avert more HIV/AIDS infections in Uganda, I have no doubt in my mind that the immediate step is for the President to immediately shake-up the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).

The President should subject the entire commission to an of inquiry for incompentence. Its not our methods which have failed us, it is the commission’s poor leadership. The AIDS commission’s is a public body that is not performing as expected.

With levels of HIV/AIDS spiraling among many groups, such as married couples, a trend which has been rising in the last five years. AIDS acitivists and stakeholders are sick and tired of the leadership of UAC’s appearances in Parliament and World AIDS Day meetings, where they painlessly lament the deadly avalanche of the virus in populations whose fidelity had previously averted the virus.

Under the current commission management, the AIDS levels which had previously fallen dramatically from 30% to 6.2% have now steadily been rising to 7%. In some places it is 11% a negative trend which seemsto be getting out of control.

As an expert of 20 years in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the decision to shake-up this commission should have been done many years back. It is no longer the question of if we should, rather it is why should we allow the problem to go on?

The Uganda AIDS Commision should be disbandled for the fatal neglect of strengthening marriages in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Five years from the day the condom policy was made (2004), the commission has never officially provided the public with the policy on the role of abstinence and being faithful in marriage.

Our official successful policy was Abstinence, Being Faithful and then Condom use. However it has never been a priority of the commission under the current leadership.

I was hired along with other experts from Harvard and Makerere University to produce a policy document for the abstinence and being faithful which we did in 2006. Due to bias and neglect, the commision refused to launch the policy document and up-to-date has failed to provide the nation with this policy guidance on abstinence and being faithful in marriage.

The policy is now gathering dust on the commission’s shelf, and because it has never been officially launched, there is lack of a corresponding budget, monitoring and implementation of prevention programmes.

On December 1, 2006, the Uganda AIDS Commission lamented about the vulnerability of marriages to HIV/AIDS, yet up to today there is no strategic plan to prioritise this glaring and pressing need. Does anyone care to stop HIV spreading in marriages?

There is a definate lack of passion and commitment for one who is vested with galvanising the nation’s moral resources to fight the most deadly disease in our generation. This kind of take it easy my style does not rise to the size of the challenge that HIV/AIDS pauses in our country. We need a strong leadership driven by passion and a burning desire to avert death by urgent social interventions which have worked in the past.

An audit by KPMG unravelled a lot of ills that have been taking place in the Uganda AIDS Commision.

Our experience in the development of the current AIDS strategic plan 2008-2012 was so horrific. Vital policy documents were handed in at the door a few minutes before discussion and only less than one hour given to have critical discussion.

It was a huge rubber stamping experience of a document developed by foreign experts which has little relevance to our specific challenges.

The abandonment of ABC for the vague “universal access” as the national strategy prevention policy spells the greatest tragedy of the Uganda AIDS Commision. No wonder it is not working. It has never worked anywhere else in the world. But ABC worked for us. The present AIDS commission leadership has succeeded in squandering the most successful AIDS programme in the world.

Some commission officials need to be fired because they have demonstrated an inability to rally the nation in fighting HIV/AIDS.

The writer is a pastor and an HIV/AIDS activist

Shake up UAC to stop more HIV infections

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