FIRST LADIES OF UGANDA AND ZAMBIA DISCUSS OAFLA ACTIVITIES
The First Lady of Uganda Mrs. Janet Museveni and her counterpart of Zambia Mrs. Esther Lungu have met and shared lessons about the work they are doing under the Organization of African First Ladies against AIDS (OAFLA) programme in their respective countries.
The Zambian First Lady and her entourage, who are in Uganda to attend the Presidential Fast Track Initiative on ending HIV and AIDS as a public threat by 2030, paid a courtesy call on Mrs. Janet Museveni at State House Nakasero on Monday.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Peace Mutuzo and stakeholders in the fight against HIV /AIDs in Uganda including UNAIDS Resident Representative Sande Amakobe, UNFPA Resident Representative Alain Sibenaler, Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) Ag.Executive Director Dr. Nelson Musoba and OAFLA-(U) Executive Director Beat Bisangwa.
Janet Museveni said she is happy that the Zambian First Lady is in Uganda to witness President Museveni launch into a new drive against HIV/AIDS in the country.
She pointed out the need for Africa to acknowledge that HIV and AIDS is still a major challenge which must be fought ardently. “How come HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem in other continents. Why has Africa failed to deal with it? There must be a lifestyle in Africa that is fertile ground for HIV/AIDS”, she said.
Janet Museveni said Uganda has had a very rich experience in the struggle against HIV and AIDS which started way back in the late 1980’s. She however observed that despite the wide knowledge on HIV/AIDS prevention that people in Uganda and Africa as a whole have, it has failed to translate into behavioural change and the infection rates continue to shoot up. “It is disheartening that the infection rates are still high”.
She said that at the beginning of the struggle people followed the “ABC” strategy which is Abstinence from premarital sex, Being Faithfulness among married couples and Condom use. This highly contributed to the reduction of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Uganda in the 1990s, but with the introduction of the ARVs, people became complacent because they think that they can live with HIV and have resumed their dangerous ways of living triggering new infections. “We so badly want to see an HIV/AIDS free generation and we celebrate the fact that we have done so well in the reduction of mother to child transmission, but the infection rates in the other age groups which continue to grow hinder us from achieving this goal”, she said.
“We believe there are lessons we can learn from Zambia especially on adolescent health”, she added.
She paid tribute to all the stakeholders whom she said have enabled Uganda to ride high on their shoulders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Zambia’s First lady Esther Lungu, who has been in that office for only two and half years, said that she has discovered a lot of challenges facing women and the girl child in her country and her programmes mainly focus on women empowerment and issues of children.
Mrs. Lungu said she is impressed with Mrs. Museveni work in the HIV/AIDS fight and will draw a lot of lessons from Uganda’s First Lady since she has been at this work for some time.
According to UNAIDS Country Director Sande Amakobe Uganda achieved the highest decline globally of children born with HIV from 30,000 in 2010 to 3,000 only by the end of 2015. All this came under the leadership of First Lady Janet Museveni’s championing of the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS (EMTCT). Amakobe said the lessons learnt from fast tracking EMTCT will be applied in championing the adolescent girl agenda in the country.
The Executive Director OAFLA Uganda Beatilda Bisangwa said OAFLA Uganda Chapter has been involved in the promotion of maternal and child health, elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS, reducing teenage pregnancies and the promoting the adolescent girl agenda.