Uganda’s First Lady Mrs. Janet Museveni has asked youths to use ICT to fight HIV/Aids as well as harness technology to create business and entrepreneurial skills for development.
While closing the annual National Youth Conference this week, she called upon the youth to use all means available to influence their fellow peers to adopt risk-avoidance behavior and desist from engaging in practices that may predispose them to the risk of acquiring HIV/Aids.
“We should take lead and more responsibility in addressing these challenges at our levels through the available means of information dissemination like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, radio stations, TV stations,” she said in a speech delivered on her behalf by the minister for presidency Frank Tumwebaze.
Mrs. Museveni emphasized that ICT continues to be a big solution to Uganda and to the entire world especially in the areas of unemployment, continued fight against HIV/Aids and security.
With 700 youths in attendance at the conference held at Uganda Manufactures Association (UMA) hall in Kampala, she promised to continue supporting efforts aimed at improving standard of living among young people in Uganda.
“I am very confident that you will implement what you learnt during this conference. I challenge you to use ICT to innovate and find solutions in agribusiness, health, tourism and other key sectors of our economy,” she said in her speech.
About 570 Ugandan girls and young women aged 15 to 24 get infected with HIV every week, according to the HIV/AIDS situation analysis by Uganda AIDS Commission.
The Uganda AIDS Commission Director General,Dr. Christine Ondoa, yesterday told MPs that girls in the university age group are at a high risk of contracting the killer virus.
,Ondoa, who was accompanied by Prof. Narathius Asingwire, a consultant for the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, presented the National HIV/AIDS Strategic plan 2015/2020 to members of parliament on the HIV/AIDS committee.
Asingwire said: “Recent UNAIDS data shows that each week in Uganda, 570 young women aged between 15 and 24 years get infected with HIV. In Africa, Uganda is second to South Africa where 2,363 people get infected with HIV weekly, compared to 468 for Kenya,491, for Tanzania, 25 for Rwanda and 2 for Burundi.”
The figure is just one of the many statistics that confirm that too many girls in this age group in Uganda are dangerously sexually active, most especially those aged 20-24 years.
The United States has assured Uganda of continued funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment despite the recent storm over the passing of the controversial anti-homosexuality Act.
Dan Travis, the public affairs officer at the US embassy in Kampala, said Uganda has been allocated $323m (about sh805b) for this fiscal year 2014 under the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
At least 60% is dedicated to treatment while 40% is earmarked to accelerate prevention projects like safe male medical circumcision and condom supply.
This means HIV funding from US has remained the same as last year. Consequently, the 507,000 HIV positive Ugandans who get free anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs from PEPFAR-supported agencies have no cause to worry.
“The key thing is not the money but the number of people who are supported so they can work, study and make a contribution to their families,” Travis observed.
He was addressing health reporters who underwent training in health reporting at the US embassy in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb on Thursday.