World AIDS Day, is commemorated 1st December every year since 1988, the celebrations are dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and remembering those who have died of the disease. World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day. The President of the Republic of Uganda H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been at the helm of the leadership commitment to ending new HIV infections and deaths related to Aids. He is slated to officiate at the National World AIDS Day 2015 celebrations in Kasese District.
Voices for health Rights coalition will be represented at the WAD National celebrations by members from the eight partner organisations implementing the Maternal Health Project. Uganda’s WAD sub-theme is “Getting to zero; My Responsibility” which is within the Global theme for the World AIDS 2015 Campaign. The HIV/AIDS response in Uganda has been driven by a high level of political commitment since 1986. This led to the shrinking of the epidemic in the 1990s. However complacency set in later and this led to epidemic resurgence. While Uganda has made remarkable progress in respect to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the recent AIDS indicator survey (2011) showed an HIV prevalence of 7.3% among people aged 15-49 years which is still high.
Currently, the total no of People Living with HIV and AIDS is estimated to be 1,486,642 in 2014, new HIV infections have declined from 128,068 in 2009 to about 99,000 in 2014 while annual HIV death has reduced from 52,799 in 2009 to 32,890. The high number of new infections in the country is compounded by challenges of social, economic, and legal barriers to effective demand and uptake of preventive HIV and AIDS services. Access and uptake of HIV prevention interventions such as prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), Safe Male Circumcision (SMC), condoms and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as well as coverage of preventive behavioral interventions is also still low.
As observed globally the Voices for Health Rights coalition partners including: The Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization-(UNHCO), Action Group for Health Human Rights and HIV (AGHA), Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), Joyce Fertility Support Centre (JSFCU), Mental Health Uganda (MHU), Health Action Group (HAG) Sickle-cell Association of Uganda (SAU) Epilepsy Support Association of Uganda (ESAU) and Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together Against Aids (THETA) will join Government, other CSOs and the public in Kasese District on Tuesday to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic; take stock of achievements; commemorate those who have passed away; and to rededicate their commitment to the fight against the epidemic.
Voices for Health Rights (VHR) is a coalition of 25 civil society organizations working in health and health rights related activities initiated in 2006 as a united front to advocate for good health policies and implementation of best practices. VHR’s goal is “to bring together Civil Society Organizations for the promotion of the right to health in Uganda”. The coalition’s vision is a society whose health policies and practices reflect the Rights Based Approach.
Eight VHR member organisations are implementing a Maternal Health Project (MHP) that aims to improve Maternal, Newborn Child and Adolescent Health. The MHP implementing partners consists of members with varying technical and operational capacity levels implementing diverse health issues ranging from HIV&AIDS, Reproductive Health, Mental Health, Sickle Cell, Epilepsy, Fertility and infertility issues among others. The Implementing Partners seek among many goals, to improved maternal access and uptake of interventions such as Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT), increase Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent health services in the communities, create awareness for family planning, promote use of contraceptives, end stigmatization of people infected and affected, Improve access to healthcare for PLHIV and advocate for favorable legislative and policy environment as well as coverage of better health behavioral interventions.
WAD sub-theme: “Getting to zero; My Responsibility” calls on everyone to play apart to realizing Zero new HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS Related Deaths.