According to Dr Elizabeth Madra, the programme manager HIV/AIDS in the Ugandan Ministry of Health, carelessness and ignorance is to blame for most cases of the dreaded diseases.
Dr Madra was speaking as the chief guest during the commissioning of the Ogur Youth Information and Care Center in Erute North, recently. The center mainly provides adolescence reproductive health care services.
Dr Madra narrated how a clergyman told her a few days ago that people are going back home from camps but many would be buried because they lived carelessly while in the camps. "People lived carelessly in camps sharing wives, young girls engaging in unprotected sex," she rued. "Youths have gone to alcoholism, drug abuse, sodomy and prostitution, we are loosing our future generation," she added. According to her, the prevalence is shifting from youths to older people with women three times more vulnerable. She called on people to behave more responsibly to avoid infections. "The fidelity and discipline we institute in ourselves will save us," she urged. "ARVs will not help us. Some people take ARVs and they think they are cured."
The center was built by North West Medical Teams, a non-governmental development and humanitarian assistance organization. The Northwest Medical Teams (now Medical Teams International) is a non-profit humanitarian aid and development organization. As of 2007, Medical Teams International has deployed more than 1,500 volunteer teams and shipped more than $1 billion in antibiotics, surgical kits and lifesaving medicines to care for 35 million people in 70 countries.
The mission of this non-governmental organization (NGO) is "to demonstrate the love of Christ to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty." They provide humanitarian aid to people in need regardless of a person's religious background, affiliation or experience. Aid recipients are not asked to participate in faith-based activities in order to receive medical care or supplies. Volunteers of various faiths are welcome as long as they can support the mission of Medical Teams International.
Uganda is estimated to have a population of about 25-30 million. The extreme mortality of AIDS has had an effect on this figure, which would otherwise be higher. As another consequence of AIDS, healthy life expectancy in Uganda is only around 50 years.
Even though HIV prevalence in Uganda is much lower than it once was, it still remains very high, and AIDS is still claiming tens of thousands of lives each year. Such a severe epidemic has a considerable social and economic impact. As AIDS usually kills young adults, it depletes a country's labor force, and weakens educational and health services.