By John Eremu
THE Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, has expressed concern over the high number of men that pitch camp at the Tri-Star Apparels plant in Bugolobi where 1,000 girls are employed.
Bukenya was yesterday launching the 2002 Uganda Human Development Report (HDR).
He called for a mechanism to protect the girls employed to produce textiles for export to the United States under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA).
â€œWhenever I pass Tri-Star factory in the evening at around 7:30pm, there are a number of vehicles parked outside waiting for the girls. I donâ€™t know whether there is a system in place to protect and support these girls from HIV/AIDS,â€ Bukenya said.
The 2002 Uganda report is the fifth report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This yearâ€™s issue highlights the effect of HIV/AIDS on economic development.
Handing over the report, UNDP resident representative Daouda Toure commended President Yoweri Museveni for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said the disease costs Uganda 1% of its Gross Domestic product.
The ceremony at the VIP lounge in the Presidentâ€™s Office was attended by the UNAIDS country coordinator, Ruben Prado, UNICEF country representative Martin Mugwenja, the World Health Organisation boss, Oladapo Walker and Prof. John Rwomushana of the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).
Bukenya said Ugandaâ€™s success story in the fight against HIV/AIDS was a result of its open policy on the disease, peopleâ€™s movement against the epidemic and political commitment at the highest level.
The 136-page report said the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Uganda had dropped three-fold in eight years, from 18% in 1992 to 6.5% in 2001.
Bukenya opposed the transfer of UAC to the health ministry saying it should remain under the Presidentâ€™s Office to ensure political involvement at the highest level.
He urged the public to document their success stories on the disease first reported in the country in Rakai district in 1982.
Bukenya called on those engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS to ensure anti-retroviral drugs reach the villages and not only urban areas. Ends