Tag Archives: Kampala

East African Parliament Pushing for HIV/AIDS Bill

As the East African Parliament winds up their term, the members are pushing for the passing of the East African Community HIV & Aids Prevention and Management Bill 2010 so that the new Assembly starts on a fresh plate.

Speaking during the stakeholders meeting in Kampala on Friday, the EALA committee on general purposes said the Bill should be passed before June when their five-year term of office elapses.

The Bill, almost similar to the one handled by the Ugandan Parliament, seeks to get interventions to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero Aids-related deaths and zero discrimination taking into account the special needs persons, the most at risk and other vulnerable groups.

Statistics from Burundi show that 3 per cent of the 8.5 million estimated population are living with HIV/Aids. According to the United Nations Aids Service Organisation in Bujumbura, majority of the infected persons are women while the coverage of the Prevention of Mother to Child Infections is very minimal.

In Uganda, there are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV/Aids, including 150,000 children. An estimated 64,000 people died from Aids in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned by the scourge.

HIV/Aids burden
Meanwhile, at the East African National Networks of Aids Organisation, statistics indicate that as of 2009, East Africa had an existing burden of an estimated 4.5million persons living with HIV/Aids, 338,800 annual new HIV infections, 286,000 Aids-related deaths and 4m orphans left due to HIV-related deaths.

Although most partner states already have their own legislations like Uganda’s HIV/Aids Prevention Bill 2009, the regional law if passed, does not criminalise the transmission of the scourge like the Ugandan Bill proposes but offers shelter to people living with the infection.

The Bill is inspired by the successes of the EAC integration which includes the coming into force of the Custom Union and the Common Market Protocols.

The regional Bill also differs from the Ugandan Bill in mandatory testing and mandatory disclosure. The committee led by Margaret Ziiwa was in Uganda to consult on the country’s Aids Bill.

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AIDS Treatment is Good Value for Money, Says New Study

Orphans at the Mildmay HIV Centre in Kampala, Uganda. A funding drop has raised concern about the long-term future of the global fight against Aids and HIV. Photograph: Jon Hrusa/Pool/Reuters

It is becoming increasingly clear that Aids is going to be a loser in the struggle by wealthy governments to cut back on spending in all areas, including development. The numbers from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) published on the Global development website on Wednesday tell the tale.

Of course, that was about bilateral aid and many Aids campaigners will be hoping the UK will make up the shortfall in contributions to the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria. And DfID and other governments and funding bodies will rightly point out that people with HIV will benefit from increased spending on other programmes – especially those for maternal and child health.

Nonetheless, there are cold shivers running down the spines of campaigners and treatment providers in poor countries. They don’t want more stories about Aids drugs running out in Uganda and clinics that are having to turn new patients away. Aids drugs are for life, not just for Christmas – to distort the old advertising slogan about responsibility and pet animals. If people who start antiretroviral therapy have to stop, they will probably develop resistance and the drugs will no longer work for them even if they eventually get a new supply.

So a new study from the expert number-crunchers at the Results for Development Institute in Washington DC, Harvard School of Public Health and Imperial College in the UK – with help from the Global Fund – is timely. It makes the economic case for investing in Aids treatment programmes. It’s not just humane to keep people with HIV alive and healthy, says the study – it actually saves money. That may just be the only argument in these straitened times that funders will readily listen to.

The study, published by the free-access journal PloS One, is specifically aimed at helping donors wrestle with their dilemma of how best to spend their waning development budget.

The 2008-10 global recession, flattening aid budgets and fiscal tightening in many Aids-affected countries are threatening the ability of donors and countries to continue scaling up ART. In this context, policymakers deciding whether to commit additional resources to ART programmes will want to consider not only the cost and health impacts of programme continuation, but also the likely economic benefits of doing so.

They went about it by analysing the costs and benefits of continuing to treat the 3.5 million people in 98 countries who will be supported by Global Fund-financed programmes at the end of this year. Against the treatment costs they set the restored productivity of people able to work again, the savings in unneeded orphan programmes and delayed costs of medical treatment for tuberculosis and other infections that afflict those with HIV at the end of life.

Keeping these 3.5 million people alive and well would cost $14.2bn in 2011-12, they reckoned – but the financial savings would amount to between $12bn and $34bn. Robert Hecht, of Results for Development, thinks the savings will outstrip the cost. “It looks very favourable. The way we did it, the calculations are conservative,” he told me. This is the paper’s conclusion:

These results suggest that, in addition to the large health gains generated, the economic benefits of treatment will substantially offset, and likely exceed, program costs within 10 years of investment.

Let’s see whether DfID and other donor governments are convinced.

Original Article by Sarah Boseley at The Guardian

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David Kato: Gay Rights Activist, his Murder and the Vision & Voice Award

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award will be presented annually, on Human Rights Day (10th December), to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particuarly in enviroments where these uinduvidual face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.

The award will be accompanied by a one time grant of US$10,000.

David Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda was one of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activists until January, when he was murdered in his home weeks after winning a court victory over a tabloid that called for homosexuals to be killed.

Along with other Ugandan gay activists, Kato had reported increased harassment, when a high court judge granted a permanent injunction against the Rolling Stone tabloid newspaper, preventing it from identifying homosexuals in its pages.

Late last year, Kato had been pictured on the front page of an issue carrying the headline “Hang Them”. He was one of the three complainants in the court case.

“Since the ruling, David said people had been harassing him, and warning they would ‘deal with him,'” Julian Pepe Onziema, a close friend and fellow gay rights activist, said.

“We were due to meet to discuss security arrangements, but he said he did not have money to get to town. A few hours after we spoke, his phone was off.”

Human Rights Watch said it was too early to speculate why Kato had been killed, but added that there were serious concerns about the level of protection of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Kampala.

Maria Burnett, the Uganda researcher for Human Rights Watch, urged a “real and substantive investigation” into the murder.

News of Kato’s murder came after a lesbian due to be deported from Britain to Uganda said she feared she would be killed if she was returned.

Brenda Namigadde, 29 – who fled Uganda in 2003 after being threatened over her relationship with her Canadian partner – is being held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

She told the Guardian Newspaper: “I’ll be tortured or killed if I’m sent back to Uganda. They’ve put people like me to death there. Most of my friends in Uganda have disappeared.”

Her initial asylum claim was rejected, in part on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence that she is a lesbian.

Ugandan society is, in general, homophobic – but in recent years the anti-gay feeling has been stoked by religious leaders, a group of US evangelicals and politicians.

In 2009, MP David Bahati introduced the anti-homosexuality bill, which calls for gay people to be imprisoned for life. Repeat offenders would face the death penalty, while Ugandans would be required to report any homosexual activity within 24 hours or face police action themselves.

Widely condemned internationally, the bill remains before parliament. Kato, human rights activist, was murdered in his home in Kampala, Uganda on 26 January 2011.

 

In recognition of his life and courage, and the continued struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals around the world, partners committed to eliminating violence, stigma and discrimination have established the David Kato Vision & Voice Award.

Inspired by his work, the award recognizes the leadership of individuals who strive to uphold the numerous dimensions of sexual rights for LGBTI people. Sexual rights are an evolving set of entitlements related to sexuality that contribute to the freedom, equality and dignity of all people, and are an important aspect of human rights. The realization of these rights is also an integral element to a meaningful HIV response among these marginalized groups.

Why is this important?

The freedom to enjoy and express our sexuality is an integral facet of life, happiness and well-being. Yet, over 70 countries continue to criminalize same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults, adding a complex dimension to realizing the sexual rights of individuals.

Stigma, discrimination and violence towards LGBTI people, and repressive laws that criminalize same sex consensual acts, undermine access to sexual health and HIV-related services and cause many to hide their same-sex relationships. Even where this is not illegal, real or perceived homophobia among health workers can make individuals reluctant to access services.

To find out the situation in your country, visit the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

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