Uganda: Households of HIV Patients Lack Enough Food - Report

(file photo).
22 November 2021

At least nine percent of households of people living with HIV/Aids in the eastern region lack enough food, a new report has shown.

According to the findings from the annual report by Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans (Uweso) under its project, the integrated child and youth development activity (ICYD), 225 (9 percent) of 2,557 households were still struggling to achieve HIV/Aids viral suppression due to insufficient food.

The findings revealed that 49 percent of children living with HIV/Aids presented nutritional deficiency as the major cause of their non-adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) treatment.

The ICYD activity is funded by USAID and aims at ensuring that children and youth, especially the most vulnerable, receive the support and services necessary to lead resilient, healthy, and productive lives.

According to the 2019 statistics from Uganda Aids Commission, the number of people living with HIV/Aids stands at 1.4 million, of whom 1.2 million are on treatment. A total of 38,000 new HIV/Aids infections are registered every year, according to Uganda Aids Commission (UAC).

The figures also show that HIV/Aids prevalence is highest among men aged 45-49 years (14 percent) while that of women in the same age bracket stands at 12.8 percent.

Mr Saad Luyinda, the programmes manager of ICYD, said the economic hardship in the households of people living with HIV/Aids have been worsened by coronavirus effects.

Mr Luyinda said the most affected districts include Busia, Mbale, Kotido and Tororo.

"Children living with HIV/Aids have been finding it difficult to adhere to treatment because of lack of food at home," he said.

Mr Luyinda said they, however, managed to support some of the affected families through donation of food under the "100 million meals" campaign initiated by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Maktoum, the Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates (UAE), in partnership with the food banking regional network, facilitated by Haba Na Haba.

He said the relief would enable the beneficiaries to adhere to treatment.

Ms Sarah Nambozo, a mother of a child living HIV/Aids in Mbale District, said her son refuses to take drugs whenever there is no food.

"He finds it difficult to take his medicines on an empty stomach. Although I encourage him, sometimes, he refuses because there is no food and he becomes weak when he takes drugs on an empty stomach," she said.

Ms Rebecca Namuzale, another mother with a child living HIV/Aids from Nkoma in Northen City Division, said she has been struggling to feed her son after she lost her job due to Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Ali Mududu, a resident of Namanyonyi Sub-county in Mbale City, said there is need for special support from government.

"Most of our children's viral load has been going down so fast because they don't get enough food to help them boost their immune system. The government should help us," he said.

Recently, Mr Robert Wandwasi, the Mbale HIV/Aids focal person, said HIVAids infection rate in urban areas now stands at 7.1 percent while that for rural areas is 5.5 percent.

Mr Wandwasi attributed the rise in prevalence to the focus on the Covid-19 pandemic at the expense of HIV/Aids.

"Whereas as a country, we had made significant progress in reducing HIV/Aids infections, this is being reversed because it is being sidelined," he said.

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