Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Uganda and Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni will launch the campaign for the elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (eMTCT) on 23rd March 2015 in the mid-Western region of Uganda, at a Rally organized in Hoima District. The eMTCT campaign is being organized by the Ministry of Health (MoH) through the AIDS Control Program supported by the Office of the First Lady, all AIDS development and implementing partners operating in Uganda.

As the Champion of the elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Uganda, the First Lady has so far held eMTCT campaigns in the South Western, Northern, Busoga, Karamoja, Kampala, West Nile and East Central regions. This eighth campaign which will be held in the Midwestern region of Uganda covers 14 districts:  Hoima, Buliisa, Kiryandongo, Masindi, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kibaale, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Ntoroko, Bundibujo, Kasese, Kabarole and Kamwenge.

The goal of the eMTCT campaign is to contribute to the national efforts of creating an HIV free generation with zero HIV new infections in babies born to HIV-positive mothers. The theme of the campaign is ‘Stand out……Participate…..Protect…” focusing on male involvement. The sub theme for mid-western region is “Test….Know….Disclose together….”.

Prior to the Rally, the First Lady will host key stakeholders from all 14 districts at a consultative meeting to discuss progress and barriers towards achieving eMTCT, and call them to action to accelerate achievement towards an HIV-free generation. 

Currently, the estimated number of infants acquiring HIV every year in Uganda has dropped from 26,000 in 2011 to 8,000 in 2014.  While access to HIV testing for pregnant women is at almost 100% and antiretroviral (ARV) coverage for pregnant women who are HIV-positive is at 85%, care for exposed infants still remains low with only about 38% of babies being given ARV drugs.

In an effort to scale up community sensitization and awareness and service delivery at health facilities, IDI alongside other implementing partners in the region have partnered with the districts to conduct community outreaches. The community sensitization exercise will target the district technical and political leadership, media; village health teams (VHTs) and peer leaders through meetings; radio talk shows and announcements, the running of radio spots and the staging of community and drama shows will also be conducted in an effort to reach communities. The partners will work together to support delivery of integrated comprehensive services that include health education and promotion of primary HIV prevention through the Abstinence, Faithfulness, and Condom use strategy; screening and treatment of STD/STIs; HIV counselling and testing; antenatal services; family planning; cervical cancer screening and safe male circumcision.
 
Dr. Christine Mugasha, the Programme Manager of eMTCT at IDI commented about the value of the campaign. “Campaigns like this are important because they give us an opportunity to leverage resources through collaboration with partners towards a common goal. In addition, because our champion identifies with all walks of life we are able to get all the stakeholders on one table to discuss how we can all contribute to this noble cause of achieving zero new infection among babies born in Uganda.”