As Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) moves to commemorate Zero Discrimination Day, the civil society organisation has decided to put emphasis on empowering women and girls living with HIV.
The universal day is observed each year on March 1, with an aim of highlighting issues related to all forms of discrimination around the world. For this year, the theme is “Zero Discrimination against Women and Girls”.
With support from Global Fund and TASO, UGANET on Thursday kicked off the commemoration activities starting with a community engagement at Kiswa Health Centre IV in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb.
(UGANET)is national non- governmental organization that was established in 1995 to bring together organizations and individuals who are interested in advocating for the development and strengthening of an appropriate policy, legal, human rights and ethical response to Health and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
During the engagement, the Head of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at UGANET, Immaculate Owomugisha said involving communities empowers them to fight discrimination and increase their participation in creating an enabling social environment to tackle barriers in access to care and treatment, stigma, discrimination and criminalization.
“Three decades of experience in the global response to HIV show that human rights based approaches to HIV prevention, treatment care and support-coupled with enabling legal environment to safeguard rights-help reduce people’s vulnerability to HIV,” said Ms Owomugisha.
The Executive Director of UGANET, Dora Kiconco Musinguzi said the focus on women and girls in this year’s theme will help to raise visibility for the challenges of discrimination that women and girls face, especially in terms of highlighting the importance of encouraging the inclusion of diverse groups of women such as women living with HIV, transgender women and sex workers.
Ms Kiconco also added that this year’s theme will help civil society organizations to generate political will and support for action necessary to address the challenges of discrimination against women and girls that often increase social, legal and economic barriers to women’s equal access to health and education.
At the same community dialogue, Dr Shaban Mugerwa, a specialist in disease prevention and control at Ministry of Health noted, “As government we shall work together with UGANET to see that rights of our fellow Ugandans on acquiring medical services especially those living with HIV/AIDS are not defiled.”
Dr. Christopher Oundo, a supervisor with Medical services Kampala and director in-charge of HIV service delivery in Kampala talked about how they are planning to win the battle against HIV/AIDS by 2030.
“We are trying to eliminate transmission so that we don’t have more infections coming up but also for those who are infected, we have to achieve 100 per cent of viral suppression so that nobody is falling sick,” he said.
Currently, according to the 2019 Stigma Index for Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) , which measure the quantities HIV stigma and discrimination in Uganda, decisions by PLHIVs to disclose their status over fear that they will be discriminated against leads to more than 21 per cent of infected males in Uganda and 20 per cent of females missing out on a dose of their treatment.
Meanwhile, another community engagement will take place on Sunday March 1, at Kimombasa slum in the populous Kampala division of Kawempe.
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