The Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, has been praised for his role in the fight against HIV Aids.
Speaking at the Uganda Media Centre, ahead of December 1, World AIDS day, the Minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo said they’re in collaboration with the Buganda Kingdom a key stakeholder in mobilizing communities in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Mbayo thanked the Kabaka for dedicating his Birthday celebrations towards fighting HIV and AIDS by rallying men to get tested and get treatment.
“I would like to thank His Majesty the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi for dedicating the Kabaka’s Birth Day run this year towards the cause of fighting HIV and AIDS. His continued role as the UNAIDS Ambassador for male engagement in the fight against HIV and AIDS contributes greatly towards the national response to HIV and AIDS,” she said.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) first appointed Kabaka Mutebi as its Goodwill Ambassador for East and Southern Africa in 2017, he was Re-Appointed up to 2023 due to his continued effort of encouraging people most especially men and youth to test for HIV and to seek treatment if necessary.
According to Mbayo, Uganda has made significant progress in fighting the HIV epidemic over the last 3 decades. According to the Uganda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA 2016), the HIV epidemic is coming under control in Uganda.
“HIV prevalence was at 6.0% in 2016 down from 7.3% in 2011. Uganda is ranked among the first 14 countries globally to have achieved the UNAIDS 2nd and 3rd targets i.e. 90% of all People living with HIV being put on treatment and 90% of those on treatment being viral suppressed,” she said.
Mbayo added: “This progress has positioned Uganda on track to achieve the ambitious goal of ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat by 2030.”
Dr. Nelson Musoba the Uganda Aids Commission Managing Director, said In spite of the progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the epidemic remains a major public health threat in Uganda with an estimated 1.4 million People Living with HIV, 53,000 new HIV cases registered annually, and an estimated 21,000 Ugandans were recorded to have died of AIDS-related illnesses according to the UNAIDS 2019 report.
Women and young women in particular are disproportionately affected and this is threatening the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mbayo called upon all stakeholders to keep up the commitment towards preventing and ending HIV and AIDS.
“Let us maintain the high-level political commitment and action, enhanced community mobilization and engagement for social and behavior change, respect for the rights of People Living with HIV and other vulnerable populations” said Mbayo.
This year, Uganda like the rest of the world has been battling with COVID-19 pandemic which has dealt a blow in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“I would like to thank all Stakeholders for maintaining the efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS despite the negative effects that were caused by the lockdown due to COVID-19,” Mbayo added.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic led to a partial lockdown of the country and because of this World AIDS Day commemoration this year will be carried out scientifically in compliance with the Presidential directives on prevention of COVID-19.
Uganda in responding to COVID- 19 and the effects that it is imposing on the national response to HIV and AIDS has tailored the theme for this year to: National solidarity and a shared responsibility towards ending AIDS.
“Your collaboration with Government in airing to the public accurate and consistent messages via social media, radio, newspapers and TVs is highly appreciated, I urge you to continue supporting us in running a Media campaign throughout this season and beyond on prevention of HIV and COVID-19.” she said.
Mbayo said, the forth coming festive season will be unique in the way that as the nation emerges from the lockdown merry making and festivities are projected to be in higher gear than usual.
“As we draw towards the festive season, there tends to be a lot of excitement within the community and people tend to engage in a lot of risky sexual behavior. I take this opportunity to remind the country that we should not relax our efforts and commitment towards preventing and ending HIV and AIDS. We need to guard against reversal of these gains made and ensure that we remain on course to end AIDS as a public health threat in Uganda by 2030” the Minister cautioned.
This year’s theme is: “Together as one, we can create a force to reckon with in the fight to end AIDS by 2030.”
She said in order to make the commemoration theme a reality, there’s need to be responsible for our lives. We need to test for HIV with our partners and together irrespective of the results decide to prevent HIV. We should utilize all the tools put in place by government to fight and end AIDS by 2030.
She added: “Religious and cultural leaders need to continue mobilizing the communities to prevent new HIV infections and continue supporting People Living with HIV to live productive lives.”
Mbayo urged Government to continue providing a conducive enabling environment and access to HIV services to all the PLHIV in Uganda during and post COVID 19. HIV services should be freely accessible to promote health well-being and rights all time.