On 22nd March, 2013, the First Lady carried out week-long eMTCT campaign activities through the media and field visits by and through various stakeholders. This campaign took place in Ntungamo district. It was organized and sponsored by the partner stakeholders and coordinated by OAFLA UGANDA secretariat. It culminated in a three- tier event: A consultative meeting with eMTCT stakeholders at a high level technical briefing, a public rally and the symbolic launch of the Option B+ strategy.
a) High Level Consultative meeting at Irenga:
At this meeting, representatives from the Ministry of Health, Uganda AIDS Commission, UNAIDS, US Government team, regional projects such as STAR-SW, UHMG, representatives from civil society, local governments and the private sector shared progress and plans for eMTCT since Serena Stakeholders meeting in August 2012. This meeting was hosted at her home in Irenga.
Observations and Recommendations:
- Several key stakeholders and Implementing partners were fully represented, demonstrating general good will and how partnerships can make eMTCT successful. (see appendix iv for the list of IPs who attended)
- There was an emphasis on partnership and cooperation so as to combat the scourge
- It was pointed out that there is a need for a committee to vet and streamline messages going to the public.
- Though some progress has been made generally, there is need for accelerated efforts toward eMTCT and accountability.
- Commitments were made in terms of support to the champion, partnerships to be developed and leaderships to be involved.
- There was a call for increases human resources in health and an appropriate HR policy framework.
b) Public Campaign at Itojo Hospital grounds
After the high level meeting, the Champion proceeded to Itojo grounds, which saw more than 3,000 people gather. In-company of the Hon Minister of Health, Chairman Uganda AIDS Commission, a representative of the Excellency US ambassador in Uganda and other dignitaries, she inspected 10 stalls that displayed eMTCT related information materials and demonstration services. In her motivational and admonition remarks, she asked whether these services were actually on the ground, servicing community people. She called for improved efforts and cautioned about careless and wrong messaging that could be fatal to the people of Uganda.
Observations and Recomendations:
There was a general feeling that:
- The first ladyâ€™s championship is already acting as an effective catalyst for accelerated action. There is an observation that since the August 2012 stakeholders’ consultative meeting, her visit to a successful community-based eMTCT her, her speech on Women’s Day 2013 and her various related meetings, there had been accelerated activities in the eMTCT sphere. (refer to progress report).
- There is need for enhanced leadership involvement at all levels in sensitizing masses on matters relating to HIV and eMTCT
- There was emphasis on male involvement by standing out, getting involved and protecting their families
- Though some progress has been made generally, there is need for accelerated efforts toward eMTCT and accountability by service providers.
- Due to increased media campaigns prior to the actual launch, there was increased eMTCT service up-take at the various health centers (refer to Kitwe Health Center for a brief report) and increased conversations around HIV by media houses and on the streets.
- There is need for equal attention to the primary prevention prong of the 4 prongs of eMTCT response