President: 'We shall fund AIDS treatment with or without aid.'

Tuesday 2nd December 2014
State House PPU

President Yoweri Museveni has said government will fund AIDS treatment for its people with or without foreign aid even if it means diverting money meant for the roads to the cause.

“We shall fund our AIDS treatment with or without foreign aid. This should not waste our time and become a song like circumcision. Even if this means that we shall not fund some of our roads to do this,” he said. He was responding to claims that there was a funding gap for AIDS treatment.

The President also called on Ugandans to redirect their efforts in the fight against AIDS to prevention, saying advocating condom use and circumcision have not been very helpful.

“In the 90s when HIV infection rates reduced from 18-6% our message was not to resort to condoms but abstinence. We managed to bring down the rates of infection through prevention messages until other people brought in condom use and circumcision. People became complacent,” he said, warning that circumcision does not stop AIDS.

The President called on the parents to counsel and guide their children about morals and AIDS and urged the youth to abstain from sex as the best mode of preventing HIV/AIDS infection.

“Children grow without moral guidance, they need advice. For a young person to get AIDS is to betray their parents who have invested so much in them. If you don’t trust someone, why do you sleep with them that because you have a condom? Ebikwyeka bye nsiika, muteeko kufulu (Put padlocks on your private parts),” he said.

The President was yesterday speaking during activities to commemorate the World AIDS Day at Booma Grounds in Fort Portal, Kabarole. It was held under the theme “Getting to zero, my responsibility.”          

Museveni said the 7.3% AIDS prevalence rate at the national level is exceptionally high, adding that more work needs to be done to reverse the trend. Kabarole District has a prevalence rate of 12% the highest in the country.

According to the Uganda AIDS Commission there were 137,000 new infections last year as compared to 160,000 new infections during the year 2012, translating into a rate of 380 people being infected daily.

President Museveni challenged the health personnel and leaders at large to work harder to ensure that services reach the people.

He criticized people promoting circumcision as one of the methods of controlling the scourge and gave the example of the people of Kasese and Bugisu who practice circumcision and still get infected. He informed the people that Kasese District has a prevalence rate of 9% in spite of practicing circumcision. He reminded them that the Muslim community which is known to circumcise their flock was equally affected by the disease.

He called on all the stakeholders to identify the gaps and strive to eradicate the disease.

Mr. Museveni concurred with the Omukama of Tooro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi the 4th who informed the gathering that some of the girls succumbed to the disease due to poverty. He challenged the parents to work hard and generate money so that their children especially the girls are not exploited and infected by men who lure them into sex for money.

He said that the Government’s target was to have zero new infections and zero deaths. He said that it was the responsibility of everyone to address the situation.

The Omukama of Tooro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi the 4th saluted the President for his able and good leadership which has led to the transformation of the people. He said his kingdom has been involved in the drive to eradicate AIDS and stressed that they were committed to bringing the AIDS prevalence rate to zero.

The State minister of Health, Opendi saluted President Museveni for championing the fight against AIDS for several years. She revealed that the expanded treatment portfolio has led to a decline in the death rate attributed to HIV/AIDS.

She informed the gathering that there was an increasing number of prostitutes in the country. She condemned some medical personnel for the vice of giving out AIDS results without testing the people.

The United Nations Coordinator, Eziokonwa- Onochie said that there was need to fight the discrimination of people living with HIV and called on all stakeholders to close the gap and end the scourge by 2030. She urged the religious and cultural leaders to work with the Government in efforts to combat AIDS.

The Chairman Council of Presidents, Inter religious Council, Bishop Mihiirwa Akiiki saluted the President for the work he has done in combating AIDS. He called on the youth to lead responsible lives. He tasked them to avoid sex until they get married.

A Board member of the National Forum of People living with AIDS, Prossy Namakula paid tribute to their colleagues who lost their lives to AIDS. She thanked the President for the AIDS act that was passed recently. She pledged their commitment to stop the transmission chain. She thanked the International Community that has enabled them to have quality lives.

The LC 5 Chairman of Kabarole District, Richard Rwabuhinga said that more efforts were needed to reverse the AIDS prevalence rate.

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