On World AIDS Day, we remember the millions of our loved ones who lost lives to HIV/ AIDS as well as take stock of the various interventions taken to curb the further spread of the disease and its effects.
This year’s theme; “Equalise” is a call to action for leaders at all levels to play their part in ending the inequalities in the HIV/AIDS responses, and aid in the eradication of the scourge.
Inequality in the care for people living with AIDS is at its worst as evidenced by the uneven distribution of HIV treatment centres across the country. Not all districts have hospitals nor do all Constituencies have a Health Centre IV. Some regions like Bukedi lack regional referral hospitals.
This makes access to HIV/AIDS care services difficult for a big percentage of our population given the long distances they have to move to reach the health facility.
The distance from health centres needs to be brought down from a radius of nearly 30 km in most rural areas to about 5 km. In the short run, the Ministry of Health should explore the possibility of working out an arrangement with private clinics and drug shops in the communities to offer some of the HIV/AIDS care services to the patients.
More effort also needs to be put into encouraging the patients to adhere to the treatment since non-adherence may result in drug resistance.
We have to Equalise and commit to ending the disparities in order to stop new cases of HIV, secure the rights of people living with HIV, and fight HIV stigma and discrimination.
Mpuuga Mathias (MP)
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION