The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Hon. Mrs. Janet Museveni, who is also Champion for the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV, has accepted to become the national champion for Ending AIDS among Adolescents in Uganda.
This was after a request made by the UN Heads of Missions to Mrs. Janet Museveni to provide leadership in advocacy for the plight of adolescents in Uganda.
The UN Mission Heads who included the UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Ahuna Eziakonwa, UNICEF’s Aida Girma, WHO’s Dr. Alemu Wondimagegnehu, UNAIDS’s Musa Bungudu, UNFPA’s Fundira Esperance, and Hodan Addou of the UNWOMEN were meeting the First Lady last Friday at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala.
The meeting also attended by the Minister of State for Primary Health Care Sarah Opendi Ochieng and Executive Director OAFLA Uganda Beat Bisangwa, dialogued on the AIDS deaths rise among adolescents and the need for a multi-sectoral approach to advocate for the plight of adolescents in Uganda.
According to the UNAIDS Gap report 2014, about 350 adolescents in Uganda get infected with HIV every week.
Janet Museveni noted that the current adolescents’ problems in the country show the weaknesses and failures of the families where parents have relegated their parental roles.
“We need to look at how to involve the families and remind them of their responsibility”, she emphasised.
She said adults should guide the children on how to protect themselves from unsafe sex and be reminded to change their behaviours, avoid irresponsible lifestyles and learn to live within their means.
She advised stakeholders to always plan to eradicate HIV completely instead of just reducing it.
Mrs Museveni thanked the UN family for always being there and continuing to galvanise the stakeholders not to lose focus in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Minister of State for Primary Health Sarah Opendi observed that 24% of mothers who die in Uganda are teenagers. She reported that campaigns against early marriages have started and some Districts have already come up with ordinances.
The UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Ahuna Eziakonwa said the UN team is inspired by the First Lady’s leadership in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and the results it has made in a short period and that is why they want her to lead the agenda to address teenage pregnancies too.
UNFPA’s Fundira Esperance emphasized that investing in adolescent health will contribute to reducing maternal mortality.
UNAIDS Country Coordinator Musa Bungudu pointed out the HIV risk factors for adolescents which include gender based violence, abuse and exploitation, intergenerational sex and early marriages, unfair policies and legislation that deprive adolescents of their say in matters related to health, lack of access to sexual & reproductive health information and services, Low HIV risk perception, high school dropouts at various levels of Education and disintegrating family and socioeconomic structures
The UN family requested for the setting up of a committee comprising Ministers of Education, Gender, Health, Finance and Parliamentarians to support implementation of adolescents laws, policies and programmes.
They also encourage senior influential individuals in Government and civil societies to become champions of the adolescent girl in addressing HIV, sexual and reproductive health, early pregnancies, early marriages, and maternal and child health issues.