Kabarole. The HIV prevalence in Tooro Sub-region in western Uganda is worrying, leaders have observed.
As an urgent intervention measure, however, Tooro Kingdom has designed a campaign aimed at curbing the deadly disease.
The Tooro Kingdom deputy health minister, who is also the Kabarole District health officer, Dr Richard Mugahi, said every week, the district registers 180 new HIV infections.
“In Tooro, the HIV/Aids prevalence rate is still high and as a kingdom, we need to ensure that by 2020, no new infections are identified. This will be achieved through the test and treat policy,” Dr Mugahi said.
The sub-region comprises Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Bunyangabu, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Ntoroko districts.
Dr Mugahi said the number of people living with HIV/Aids in Tooro has increased from 67,574 patients in 2015 to 83,731 patients in 2017.
“We have also enrolled more people on antiretroviral therapy in health facilities from 60,259 in 2015 to 83,778 in 2017,” he said.
In one of the activities to mark the 23rd coronation anniversary for King Oyo Nyimba Rukidi Iguru IV that was celebrated last Saturday, the kingdom organised the HIV/Aids symposium aimed at devising means of fighting the HIV/Aids scourge.
The symposium was organised under the theme; “engaging men in the fight against HIV/Aids, the role of cultural institutions”.
The symposium resolved to fight gender-based violence in families, which was highlighted as one of the factors that has resulted in the spread of HIV/Aids.
They agreed to package and disseminate HIV messages through music, dance and drama and engaging more men in testing, especially the boda boda riders and truck drivers who they pointed out as more vulnerable.
He said the intervention for the free Aids generation in Tooro Kingdom will involve having a weekly HIV/Aids test for all truck drivers, establishing voluntary male medical circumcision and using assisted partner notification.
The Tooro Kingdom prime minister, Mr Bernard Tungwako, said the campaign will involve the use of the newly inaugurated Tooro Kingdom council of opinion leaders to spread message about dangers of HIV/Aids and the causes of new infections.
Role of elders
Last month, Tooro Kingdom inaugurated a council of opinion leaders comprised of more than 4,800 officials with the aim of restoring the cultural values.
The kingdom has also resolved to fight immorality and indecent dressing, which according to the kingdom, leads to men raping girls.
The kingdom resolved to partner with people living with HIV/Aids under the Pill power Fort Portal Association that will move to different schools and other kingdom functions sensitising people about HIV/Aids.
Ms Edita Kasagaki, one of the association members, said partnering with the kingdom in the campaign to fight against HIV/Aids before 2030 is the only way it can be successful.
During his coronation anniversary, King Oyo said the HIV scourge has affected the development of Tooro Kingdom.
“I commit myself as an UNAIDS [United Nations Programme on HIV/AIids] ambassador to work with the district, health partners, civil society organisations in the fight against HIV/Aids because I am informed that only in Kabarole district the HIV prevalence rate is more than 10 per cent and while in Rwenzori Sub-region, (the prevalence) is at 5.7 per cent,” he said.
His target is to achieve an HIV/Aids free generation.
King Oyo directed all kingdom leaders to mobilise subjects to go for HIV Aids testing and if they test positive, they should start treatment.
The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented President Museveni as chief guest at the coronation anniversary last weekend, commended the king for spearheading the fight against HIV in the country and globally.
While opening the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa in Ivory Coast in December last year, King Oyo said: “I lead a population of about six million people in Tooro Kingdom and many of these are infected with HIV. If we are organised, we can remove HIV from Africa. I have learnt that the power of heritage in our African values can too be used to fight the spread. I pray that this solidarity continues for a better future.”