A total of 37 local leaders gathered at Wakyato Sub county headquarters in Nakaseke district have committed themselves to playing a key role in addressing the challenges their communities face from HIV/AIDS and reducing new infections within their localities.
An array of leaders including local councillors, religious leaders, the chairman of Nakaseke district council and the mayor pledged to work with PLHIV groups supported by Alliance Uganda, to reduce new HIV infections and support campaigns for PMTCT in Kinyogoga, Wakyato, sub county, Nakaseke district.
Kanakulya Godfrey, the facilitator, said: “The community engagement that was organised in partnership with Ani Ali Namanyi (AYA) PLHIV and International HIV/AIDS Alliance seeks to bring aboard opinion leaders, local leaders, religious leaders, cultural leaders and health practitioners for a greater and collaborative involvement between different partners in addressing challenges faced by communities in managing the different dimensions of HIV/AIDS.”
Hassan Mutebi from Ani Yali Amanyi said it was important that they initiate a greater collaboration between AYA liaison group and local leaders and help to incorporate the activities of AYA into the national health strategic plan.
“As a group of PLHIV, we need to ensure that we continue with what we have been doing even when Alliance Uganda tells us that it is time to stand on our own footing. We need to think of life after Alliance.
In their various forms of commitment, many local and opinion leaders affirmed their realisation of the need for greater collaboration.
Luzige Andrew, a local leader, said: “We are now going to work with Persons Living with HIV and as a sub county we shall formalise this collaboration in our dealings. This will be initiated after first identifying the needs of our communities. It will enable our people to get the services they need to support orphans and help us to educate them.”
Ssempiira Ronald, a local councillor, said: “We are going to spread the news fast about this collaborative engagement and involvement by us and the communities to all the villages and also create greater awareness. This is the first time in Nakaseke that we hear of such collaboration, and we are committed to making the best use of it.
“We are going to teach the people in our communities, especially those who are affected by HIV/AIDS about the need for identifying people who are HIV positive and the services provided by PHAs in other communities. We also strongly commit to supporting PLHIV through the local council mechanisms.”
Another leader called Kavuma said: “I am going to partition the villages into zones, provide zonal leadership and spread out responsibilities. The best way of managing HIV/AIDS is to lead communities into awareness of how the problem affects them and what their response can be at a given time.”
According to Reverend Kabuye Gideon of Balittera Kyato Church of Uganda: “As religious leaders, it is now the time to work with other religious leaders, and let them know how the work progresses. “For a wider response from the country, our voices as religious leaders need to be heard. We also need to inform our people about the services available in our facilities. For instances, we are hearing of PMTCT, but people think that Wakyato has no health workers, and therefore such a service can not be provided. But such a gap can be bridged why we work together.”
Hassan Khalid, an Imam from Kakira Mosque, said: “As a Muslim leader, I have access to many of my Muslims brothers and other people from different denominations that I talk to. I have realised that I need to call upon them anytime I get an opportunity, to attend to PLHIV issues and initiate actions for a community and become aware of what is going on.”
The chairman of Wakyato, Mr. Mutabazi James, confessed that he had been ignorant of the existence of PHA groups.
He said: “As a council, we are going to incorporate the issues and plans of PHAs into the sub county strategic plan so that we are assisted to plan with them in mind. We are also asking these groups to remind us as often as possible that they exist, through communicating their activities and inviting us.”
Councillor Kamukama Aisha said that the community of Wakyato and Goma in Nakaseke are mainly pastoralists, and the council and local leaders should use the opportunity of the local radio station Musana (91.0 F.M) to communicate as much as they have been taught about the HIV/AIDS challenges for the benefit of wider community.
- In full attandance
- Wakyato is easily acessed by motor Cycle transport