Health minister Plan for treatment for people with TB

By Daudi Zirimala
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng,has launched a 100-Day Accelerated Scale-up plan for Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment (TPT) targeting over 300 000 People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) in Uganda where the government will also provide TPT to all children aged 12 months or more living with HIV as well as HIV-negative infants and children aged 5 years or below who are household contacts of patients with pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that the Ministry of Health and partners have over time implemented HIV prevention and treatment interventions that have resulted in a significant epidemic contraction in the last five years.

The United States (US) Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac commended the country on raising awareness about TB among PLHIV and investing resources to mitigate the challenge.

She noted that TB remains a big burden among PHLIV, leading to death.Ms Deborah, thus informed everyone that the US government is committed to tackling TB in general and especially among PHLIV, “we will continue to invest resources to tackle the TB scourge in Uganda.”

In his remarks, the World Health Organization Representative in Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam similarly lauded the Government of Uganda for scaling up TB prevention treatment for PLHIV. He said that TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, “in 2017, for example, TB was responsible for 32% of the 940 000 lives lost to HIV, globally,” he noted.

Dr Yonas further said that later this month, the WHO will convene a Guideline Development Group (GDG) to update the existing guidelines on TPT that are needed for programmatic management of hidden tuberculosis infection.

Despite the adoption of global TPT guidelines, Uganda has only been able to reach 16% of the PLHIV with this life-saving intervention.

However, Uganda is still facing a dual epidemic of TB and HIV despite 13 years since the first TB/HIV collaborative policy was developed with 40% of the TB patients testing HIV positive, and 35 per 100 000 people dying with TB and HIV. Similarly, an estimated 14 000 TB-related deaths among HIV positive individuals occurred in Uganda in 2017.

The above thus created the need to scale up TPT in order to reduce the deaths due to TB among PLHIV.

Labaratory assistant arrested for failure to account for missing HIV testing kits

Remmy Yesiime, a laboratory assistant attached to Kabira health center III in Mitooma district is in trouble for alleged theft of HIV testing kits.

Yesiime was picked up on Monday following an impromptu inspection conducted by Emmy Ngabirano, the Mitooma Resident District Commissioner in response to complaints by residents.

According to Ngabirano, during the inspection, Yesiime failed to account for more than 500 HIV testing kits delivered to the facility. He explained that the number of people tested at the facility is far less to the missing kits.

Yesiimye acknowledge the disappearance of the HIV testing kits but denied knowledge of how they left the facility. He was locked up at Mitooma Central Police Station pending investigations into the matter.

Henry Mugarura, the Mitooma District Police Commander, says Yesiimye is being held misuse of office and theft of government properties under SD Reference number 05/19/06/2017.

Emmy Ngabirano, the Mitooma Resident District Commissioner, says they are determined to get rid of health workers misusing their positions at the expense of residents.



HIV patients abandon medication due to prevailing hunger

The biting hunger situation in Karamoja has forced persons living with HIV to abandon their medication. The hunger was triggered by the prolonged dry spell, which affected crops gardens for the last two seasons.

Some of the people living with HIV in Moroto told URN that much as anti-retroviral drugs -ARVs have been helpful in boosting their immune system and enabled most of them to live longer; they now skip medication because of hunger.

Madinah Adong, one of the persons living with HIV says the food crisis has forced most of them out of the hospital since they feel getting drugs without food in the house is dangerous to their health. She notes that a number of them are breastfeeding mothers on treatment.

Adong asks government to intervene before all the efforts to save persons living with HIV go to waste due to hunger.

Christine Ajilong, the Chairperson of persons living with HIV in Kaabong, says more than 210 people have refused to take drugs due to hunger. She notes that the families of persons living with HIV are in dire need of food.

Ajilong says more than half of the of the 1200 people living with HIV in Kaabong are facing a severe food crisis.  Dr. Dennis Esayu, the in charge Anti-retroviral Treatment- ART Clinic at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital acknowledges that the food situation has affected drug adherence among his clients.

He notes that most of the clients who visit the ART Clinic complain of hunger and don’t return for drugs. Dr. Esayu notes that food is highly recommended for persons on medication as some clients register complications when they take drugs on empty stomachs. He says some clients develop side effects like diarrhea, vomiting and nightmares in the short term when they don’t eat something before taking drugs while cases of anaemia among others are recorded in the long run.

”We have heard cases of clients resorting to alcohol [kwete] when they want to take medicine and this is not good for their health” Dr. Esayu noted. Kotido District LC V Chairperson, Ambrose Lotuke says the issue of persons living with HIV skipping medications has overwhelmed his desk and every meeting he attends at the district.

”Unless the situation is addressed, we’re going to lose more people especially HIV clients to hunger. The drugs these people take are very strong and require something in the stomach to keep them moving” Lotuke said in a phone interview.

He adds that the most affected in his district are communities in the rural areas as they are hit by high poverty levels. The HIV prevalence in Karamoja stands at 5.3 percent. Government last delivered food to the region in early February this year.




Winners of 31 million US dollar announced

From URN

Three Ugandan organizations have won 31 million US dollar to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Brick and Brick-Uganda, Mirembe Project and Wizarts foundation were announced winners at the ongoing 21st International AIDS conference in Durban.

The organizations will collectively share the money to reach 335,000 young women through implementing innovative solutions aimed at empowering girls to reduce the risk of sex partners, strengthen families, and mobilize communities for change.


Delete clauses in the HIV prevention and control Act

By Deo Wasswa

More than 60 civil society organizations, Health activists and Human rights lawyers petitioned constitutional court to delete clauses in the HIV prevention and control Act 2014 that are discriminatory.

They say some of these clauses are negatively impacting the lives of persons living with HIV, and discourage voluntary testing which contributes to the spread of HIV.

The clauses are, the forced disclosure of one’s HIV status by medical workers to the people at risk, criminalizing one who attempted or deliberately transmit HIV to another person.

Dorothy Kiconco, the executive director of Led by Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS says attaching an HIV response to criminality, punishment, and victimization will take country back ward and will fuel discrimination.