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Thursday, January 2, 2014

NON-MUSLIM COMMUNITY SHUNS MEDICAL MALE CIRCUMCISION IN BUTAMBALA

Kalamba Community Development Organization

Butambala district joined the rest of the country and the world in marking World AIDS Day on 1st December urging its residents to take an HIV test.

The community based organization (CBO); Kalamba Community Development Organization with other partners was in charge of the two days activities at the Kalamba sub county grounds.

While the Global theme for the World AIDS Campaign was ‘Zero HIV infections, Zero AIDs related Deaths’, Uganda's theme for this year (2013) world AIDS day was ‘Re-engaging communities for effective HIV Prevention.’

The guest of honor Dr. Ben Kiwanuka Mukwaya the Buganda Minister for health encouraged the residents of Butambala to test for HIV and commended the work the CBO has done so far in engaging the communities in HIV prevention.

Mr. Fredrick Bombo, the executive director of Kalamba said that despite efforts by Government to reduce the spread of HIV, Butambala remains among the districts in Uganda with a high HIV prevalence rate at 10.4% compared to the national of 7.4%.

Like elsewhere in the country, women in Butambala are more infected than men at 8.3% compared to 6.4% respectively. But contrary to popular beliefs and research that Muslim (circumcised) communities have lower prevalence, in Butambala the HIV prevalence is going up like the national prevalence is.

This is basically due to challenges like high poverty levels, risky sexual behaviors, low literacy rates, high level of school drop outs, stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV (PLHAs) and children, drug and substance abuse by the youth.
Butambala is predominantly Muslim and ranks among the 10 top densely populated in the country.

According to Mr. Bombo at the World Aids Day celebration activities the turn up for safe male circumcision in Butambala was disappointing due to a misconception by members of other religious faiths that male circumcision is a campaign to convert them to the Muslim faith. Bombo said this was caused by inadequate awareness and unclear, uncoordinated messages.

Also the attitude about family planning is still very poor especially among men and so there is poor participation in reproductive health, basically due to inadequate awareness and refusal by the community  to do couple counseling.
Health workers attest to the various occasions when women test without consent of their male counterparts which causes a lot of domestic instability and violence.

But the district has scaled up the elimination of mother-to-child-transmission, the uptake of HIV counseling and testing and the district leadership has taken on the HIV leadership role just like the President Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet Museveni, said Bombo. The Early Infant diagnosis (EID) Program is also being expanded to lower health units.

Butambala residents have also been availed with a new brand of condoms; life defender, by UNFPA. Emily Katamujuna from PATHFINDER based at the Kalamba organization reported increased use of condoms and availability.

Major activities for the two day function at Kalamba included a marathon and bicycle race with the support from PROMETRA Uganda, HIV testing and counseling; safe medical male circumcision by Gombe Hospital, Mildmay and TASO Entebbe branch.
There was also cervical cancer screening and family planning by PACE, blood donations by the community in collaboration with the Uganda Red cross and Blood bank as well as humanitarian support to selected PHLWA Households in collaboration with Bright parents junior school in Lubowa and KAINSUDE Kamengo. Community mobilization and welfare was supported by World vision Kamengo cluster and the village health teams.

For more information please contact
Email: kalambaug@yahoomail.com: Telephone : +256772505590

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