Alur Kingdom Chiefs after meeting with the Uganda AIDS Commission officials
By Prisca Oroma
In a bid to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS prevalence in the Kingdom, the chiefs in Alur kingdom have decided to address the key cultural practices that impact HIV and AIDS response in the kingdom.
In a meeting with Uganda AIDS commission recently, the chiefs identified six key cultural practices which include child marriage, widow inheritance, wife beating, extended marriage ceremonies (Keny) traditional social gathering, extended time for traditional dance (Agwara and Ndhara).
According to Santus Openjtho Jadipu Ayeveni Chiefdom, these cultural practices have greatly impacted on the fight against HIV/ AIDS therefore some like window inheritance should be abolished and traditional marriage(Keny) be reduce to 1-day from the current 1-week while social gatherings and traditional dance should end by 7:00 pm.
“We are ready to start dialoging with the communities about some of these negative cultures and the bad behaviours that are greatly impacting on the fight against HIV/AIDS” he said
Rt. Hon Vincent Ochaya Orach the prime minister Alur Kingdom said there is need to document best cultural practices in reducing HIV and AIDS prevalence because cultural practices like window inheritance still exist in our community.
“We should check attitude towards the negative cultural practices and monitor and control anti-social behaviors of especially the youths and this is worse during the season grasshoppers therefore the chiefs need to work with the local government to regulate the harvest of grass hoppers” he said.
Susan Chandiru Uganda AIDS Commission said they hold highly regarded the cultural institution in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that is why they want to continue to work with them to promote dialogue on social values, HIV, gender and also document best practices in realizing the implementation of HIV and AIDS successes in the country.
She said that the commission also developed an action plan for the implementation of the first track HIV and AIDS initiative to end AIDS and its public threat in Uganda.
“We all know that Uganda was very reputable in bringing down the HIV epidemic from the 80s up to day we realized more achievements between the 80s and 90s where we had a decrease in the HIV prevalence however between 2000 and 2011 we lost track, our focused changed and there was a lot of complacence many people were taking HIV as a normal disease” she said
The step taken by the chiefs will help in reducing High risk sexual behaviors including early marriage, multiple sexual relationships, inconsistence in condom use and transactional sex among others.
Christopher Omara the resident district commissioner said that the level of teenage pregnancy is high which is an indicator that HIV/ AIDS prevalence is high in the district. It is unfortunate that the data being used is for 2016.
“Every time prevention is now lessening and we talk about medicine and other aspects leaving prevention and that is why we have failed to eradicate the disease but instead stagnated at this point yet we should have been at zero now” he said.
He said that if care is not taken, In the near future people who are not positive will be stigmatized because it will be normal for people to take medication therefore in order to eradicate HIV it is better to concentrate on prevention and engaging the Chiefs’ will is a good idea since they are respected in the communities .