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International News
Learning From Uganda

May 21, 2002

The Islamic Medical Association of Uganda's (IMAU) "AIDS Education Through Imams" project has been commended as one of the best practices on HIV/AIDS prevention. Over the years, Uganda has seen the fruits of its labor. In 1986, the HIV incidence level of a group of young pregnant women in a particular hospital unit was measured at around 30 percent. But last year, at the same unit, the number fell to 6.1 percent.

The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), which sent a delegation of Malaysian Islamic leaders to Uganda, hopes to replicate its success in Malaysia. There are obvious parallels between Uganda and Malaysia. Uganda is primarily a Muslim country. More than half of Malaysia's population consists of ethnic Malays, who are Muslim. According to MAC, the total number of infections reported in Malaysia from 1986 to December 2001 is 44,208. Of this number, 32,068 (72.5 percent) are of Malay ethnicity. These numbers are based on the Ministry of Health statistics, but it is an accepted fact that there are many other cases that go unreported.

Among the projects undertaken by IMAU is the Madarasa AIDS Education and Prevention Project, which aims to provide HIV/AIDS education to young people in Muslim religious schools, and to teach young people to help people in their own communities living with HIV/AIDS. Through the Ministry of Education, the subject of HIV/AIDS is part of the curriculum in Ugandan schools. Caring for those affected and infected by the disease is also a major part of IMAU's efforts. "Many suffered discrimination, but luckily, there is a strong organization that did a lot of advocacy, and has helped destigmatize the issue somewhat," said IMAU Chairperson Dr. Magid Kagimu.

"We need to learn from each other. We must realize that none of us works in isolation. If the problem here [Malaysia] never reaches what has happened in Africa, good, but it requires efforts now in terms of prevention and care to ensure that that does not happen," Kagimu said.


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Excerpted from:
New Straits Times (Malaysia)
05.02.02; Loretta Ann Soosayraj




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