Uganda's success in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic will be judged on the basis of how the country handles its most vulnerable people.
The call was made by Anil Damani, the chief executive officer Dembe Group, a distribution company based in Kampala.
Damani made the remarks during the handover of hygiene packs to the community of people living with HIV through the National Forum of People Living with HIV Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) at their offices in Mengo Kampala.
Packs containing a three-months supply of 180,000 105g Dettol soap and 30,000 bottles of 750ml Jik surface cleaner were handed over by the UNAIDS in Uganda in partnership with Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (RB) and Dembe Group. The packs will be distribute to 10,000 individuals in Uganda.
According to the donors, basic hygiene commodities are a vital tool to fight COVID-19, and the donation is part of efforts to reduce exposure to the impact of COVID-19 among people living with HIV.
"Countries across the globe have enacted strong social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic. However, within and outside the home the best protection aside from distance is washing hands and disinfecting surfaces," a joint press statement reads in part.
"We are particularly privileged to associate ourselves with UNAIDS and Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC in providing support to communities across Uganda to cope with the different challenges which have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The commitment from our company is to continue reaching out to especially vulnerable groups during this difficult time," Mr Damani said.
Dr Karusa Kiragu, the UNAIDS Country Director, speaking at the handover ceremony, encouraged people living with HIV to take precautions to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and to reach out to their health-care providers to ensure they have adequate stocks of essential medicines. This includes following World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of washing and/or sanitising hands, practicing social distancing, and seeking health care if one is ill.
NAFOPHANU board chairman Dr Stephen Watiti reiterated Dr Kiragu's call for continued taking of medication saying the medicines help to build immunity which is important in fighting the Corona virus.
According to the Ministry of Health, Ugandans should continue practicing safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus especially now that the lockdown is being lifted.
Uganda Aids Commission Director General Dr Nelson Musoba said persons with conditions that compromise their immunity are more vulnerable to the Corona virus infection and may develop full blown diseases after being infected with COVID-19.
"It is, therefore, critical that people living with HIV/AIDS take extra caution in applying the COVID-19 prevention measure," he said.
"I take this opportunity to sincerely thank Reckit Benckiser for the very important gesture of donating the hygiene pack to people living with HIV. I thank UNAIDS for the partnership with RB and Dembe Group that has culminated into this support throughout Sub Saharan Africa including Uganda," Dr Musoba, who was the chief guest at the handover ceremony, added.