IRIN/AllAfrica.com Examines HIV/AIDS in Camps in Northern Uganda, Lack of Access to Health Services
April 18, 2006
IRIN/AllAfrica.com on Friday examined the HIV/AIDS epidemic in overcrowded camps in the Acholiland region of northern Uganda, where the disease "can't always be given priority" despite the fact that AIDS-related illnesses are among the "top self-reported causes of death" in the roughly 200 camps, which are home to nearly two million internally displaced persons. The Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government have been fighting for almost 20 years in the region, leading to insecurity and underdevelopment in the country and leaving displaced people without health care services, access to antiretroviral drugs and other medicines, care and support services, education, clean water, food and appropriate sanitation systems, IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. According to 2005 Ministry of Health figures, Uganda's HIV prevalence nationwide is 6.4%, compared with greater than 9% in northern Uganda. "People living with HIV/AIDS have limited access to quality services here because of the fact that they are living in camps where insecurity is rampant, where it is not easy for humanitarian services" to reach, John Ntambi, a relief worker in the Acholiland region, said. According to some HIV advocates, relief workers have been "unwilling" to start HIV-positive people on treatment "only to abandon them in midstream due to rebel attacks," IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. Aurelie Desmouliere of Medecins Sans Frontieres said the organization plans to launch a voluntary program for HIV/AIDS screening, counseling and treatment at no cost in Patongo, a camp in the Acholiland region. In the neighboring Kitgum district, also in Acholiland, several nongovernmental organizations now offer voluntary counseling services and some provide antiretroviral drugs and have begun receiving essential funding to improve access to treatment (IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 4/14).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.