MUWRP Moves To Address High HIV Prevalence Rates On Koome Island

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In short
The rate of HIV/Aids prevalence in Koome Island, Mukono district, stands at 18 percent, almost three times higher than the national figure that stands at 7.3 percent.

The rate of HIV/Aids prevalence in Koome Island, Mukono district, stands at 18 percent, almost three times higher than the national figure that stands at 7.3 percent.

Fred Bagomose, the clinical officer Koome Health Centre Three attributes the higher rates to such habits as wife sharing, commercial and unprotected sex, and failure to embrace awareness measures towards the HIV/AIDS scourge.

According to Bagomose, other factors contributing to the spread of HIV/Aids in the area include the availability of money during the fishing season, and the lodges in a predominantly fishing community.

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Dr Francis Kiweewa, the head of research and scientific affairs, Makerere University Water Reed Project (MUWRP), says in 2010 while offering HIV/AIDS control and treatment services in the neighboring Kkooja Island, he established that the majority of people who were accessing the services were from Koome.

According to Dr Kiweewa, even those who tried to access the services had to drop on the way, due to the distance between the two islands.

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He explains that to bring the services nearer to the people, MUWRP and the US Army contacted the district authorities to undertake the repair, and maintenance of the dilapidated Koome Health Centre Three.

Early this week MUWRP handed over the health centre to the district authorities after the repairs on the maternity ward, building a new structure for the out-patients department, and providing pipe water and solar energy facilities.

The new structure comprises the waiting shed, reception for the patients, drug rooms, and laboratory.

Some of the HIV patients including Jane Nansubuga, Ritah Kamya and Grace Nakabugo, expressed happiness that the services have been brought near to them on the island.

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Koome Island has a population of about 25,000 people, but Teddy Nakaddu, an official at Koome sub county claims that the population sometimes shoots to 100,000 during the fishing season.

According to Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, the prevalence and impacts of HIV/AIDS pose significant challenges for fishing communities, where infection rates are believed to range from 10 to 40%. The national averages of the Partner States range from 6% to 7.3%.

Some of the factors that contribute to the vulnerability of fishing communities to HIV/AIDS, according to the fisheries organisation, include living in remote locations, mobility of fishers, daily cash income, and cultural norms affected by living away from home. Others are higher ratio of men to women at fish landing beaches and attitudes to risk.