Regional workshop on STDs/AIDS hails Museveni 

By Specioza Nabukenya

The Eastern and Southern Africa training workshop on sexually transmitted infections has placed Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on top of Africa's leaders in the struggle to fight AIDS in the region.

The workshop held from October 11 to November 6, 1998, in Chikankata Health Centre in Mazabuka, 131 km South of Lusaka City, recognised President Museveni as one of the African leaders who immediately told the world about the existence of the AIDS pandemic in Uganda, as soon as the first patients were known.

Mr. Festus Bazira, co-ordinator of the Voluntary Service Trust Team (VOLSET), based in Nakaseke Town, Luwero District was one of the two representatives from Uganda.  The other was Josephus Musisi, the co-ordinator of Mukono District Network of people living with HIV/AIDS (MUDINET).

Director of Volset; Festus Bazira

Other participants came from Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, and Kenya.

The workshop, sponsored by the Regional AIDS Training Network (RATN), based in Nairobi, Kenya, aimed at discussing sexually transmitted infections and their preventative measures.  Other topics included: perspective medical aspects of HIV/AIDS, principles of counseling, home care process, community counseling, HIV testing and its implications, the role of nutrition in home care for people with AIDS, and nursing care in hospitals and peer teaching.  

Indigenous NGOs to Be Supported by
Local Government
 

By Specioza Nabukenya

During his welcoming remarks, Mr. Samuel Tuhairwe, who is the chairman of VOLSET Luwero, noted the presence of the guest of honor, government officials and members in attendance.  He invited Mr. Festus Bazira, the coordinator of VOLSET to give a report.

In summary, he introduced the foundation body, Dr. E. Mubiru (late), Mr. Festus Bazira, Mr. Samuel Tuhairwe, Mr. Josephus Musisi, Mrs. Veronica Mutaasa, Mrs. Mary Bazira, and Miss Specioza Nabukenya.

He reported that membership had risen from 11 to 30, and that the NGO was operating in a leased building at Nakaseke Town.  He said that the organization’s activities included: provision of welfare services, Basic Community Health Care, Participatory Development programs, poverty alleviation, and income generating projects (IGP).

Most emphasis this time was put on community Health Education and STI/HIV prevention.  Emphasis was also on provision of welfare services to some children in need (CHIN), support, and PLWHA's home visiting.  Commenting on methods used, Mr. Bazira reported that Music/Drama and video shows had been quite effective in attracting a number of service recipients.  Lecture and participatory methods were also employed.

At this point, Mr. Bazira indicated that the community was quite responsive, and this was credited to both the local residents and leaders together with our service providers on volunteerism spirit.  He stressed that finance was a nature constraint to performance, but commended the VOLSET Membership subscription and board Members' support.

The 1998/99 budget was 7,089,000/=, but it was less by 2,321,260/= as a result of some proposed activities which did not take place for some reasons which were beyond control, which need to be revisited.

Some of the activities covered included counseling, IEC through information library at the coordination centre-Nakaseke Town, AIDS home visiting, and family planning counsels.

On capacity building, he reported that RATN (Nairobi), with Chikankata (Zambia), sponsored the Co-coordinator to the STI/AIDS Training for one month in Zambia.  Mr. Festus said that Mr. Fred Senyondo was an asset after training as a facilitator here at home.  A plan was under way to train Home Care Providers.

On future plans, there is a plan for sustainability, the organization plans to start a Soy Project as a source of income, and to continue with other activities as stipulated in the report.  The 1999/2000 budget of 7,362,500/= was presented by the coordinator and the expected funding sources included STI protect (Luwero), membership fee collections, and cost sharing.

Before the guest of honour gave his speech, Ms. Beth Namakula of Bukuuku parish in Kasangombe Sub County gave an emphatic testimony.  Her husband died 1998 leaving behind a number of children.  Namakula could not stand the test at first, but after her results showed that she was positive, she stopped thinking of death, and concentrated on the welfare and future of her children, in case she left the world.

In her brief comments, the NACWOLA Regional co-coordinator, Miss Agnes Nyamayarwo outlined the mission/goal and objectives of her organization in line with the women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda.  Agnes, who had put on a cool and empathetic face entering 2000, said that she lost her husband to AIDS in 1992, but with positive living, she as lived on to see her children grow, and some are in university.  She stressed a need for positive living.

The Health Secretary in Luwero's local government, Mrs. A. Nsereko noted, with much concern, the presence of foreign NGOs, but when their duration expires, nothing or little is left in place to continue with what they have started.  She was glad to learn that VOLSET was started by local Ugandans and, above all, operates in rural and semi-urban communities.

Mrs. Nsereko said that Nakaseke Hospital was now the Sub-District Health Headquarters for Nakaseke County, and efforts made in this area to uplift the standard of healthful living will be appreciated, and subject to support as much as possible.

She commended the initiative of founding members of VOLSET, and said that Dr. Mubiru, Mr. Festus Bazira, and the founding members will long been remembered for their efforts they put in today.

Mrs. A. Nsereko invited the Guest of Honour.

GUEST OF HONOUR'S SPEECH

The Guest of Honour, Mr. Nadduli, who is also the VOLSET Patron, and LC V chairperson of Luwero District delivered his speech as follows:

I start by speech with one important question: Which of you has a relative aged 200 years?  If not, was there AIDS the time that our great grandparents died?  The answer is simple, whether we have HIV/AIDS or not, we shall all, add one time or the other, die.  So, worrying about death, because there is AIDS, is not an issue, but what we can do to fight this monster out?  We have to protect our future generations.  In the olden days there were some deadly infections, namely Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Malaria, Measles, Smallpox, and other plagues.  At one time, they were thought incurable, but today it is possible to cure them.  I believe, HIV/AIDS question will be solved some day.  Who knows, it may be in our days or later.

We may wonder as to why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  These are people who could not change their moral behavior, as it is today.  While we go in for condoms, we should also improve on our conducts.  While the government is attracting the Karamojong to dress, our people admire going naked, especially some women in long dangers.  We should be in our sound mind as the world is trying to find a solution to AIDS.  Turning to you parents, you should be faithful to your partners to reduce further infection.

 

I want to recommend the work of Non-government Organizations, especially those formed by fellow Ugandans.  I start with VOLSET, of which I am the Patron.  NACWOLA is another.  These are Ugandan NGOs concerned with the community welfare and development.  They are all worthy of support.  A slot should be allocated in local government financial budgets for these local NGOs like VOLSET.

On HIV/AIDS counseling, I say that it is important to continue with such programs.  It emerges the client to live positively.  More counselors should be trained and equipped with up-to-date information on HIV/AIDS development.

I am glad to inform you glad there is now a variety of drugs which reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS so that a person can live with the same for years.  It may be expensive, but at least it is available.  Who knows, vaccines may sooner or later be developed.  The Guest of Honour drew laughter when he said that "God heals, but doctors get the credit, and eat the money."

He stressed that in such a situation, we should give God his first place to have reproductive results it all our efforts.  Al-Hajji Nadduli regretted the silencing of efforts of local herbalists who are trying to work around the clock to find a local drug which could assist in AIDS treatment.  He called upon all national and international researchers to put into consideration the man at the grassroots.

In his conclusion, Mr. Nadduli sought advice and support from the central government to promote local NGOs' efforts, and to encourage donor conferences which could include both National and International Donors.  By doing so, these CBOs (Community Based Organization) and NGOs could be sustained and promoted.  He respectfully disclosed that the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kagutta Museveni was in favour of all efforts being made to develop the local community through such initiatives.

He finally called upon local leaders and the community to give support to organizations of this kind.  The meeting was climaxed with a film show which was related to HIV/AIDS effects on both the community and parents/children.

The LC III chairperson, Kasangombe Sub-County Mr. Sam Serunkuuma gave a vote of thanks, and recommended VOLSET for a fruitful program, and wished everybody a safe journey.

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