At a high level stakeholders’ meeting convened by OAFLA Uganda – the HIV & AIDS program in the First Lady’s Office, on 21st August 2012, participants resolved that Her Excellency the First Lady of Uganda, Maama Janet Kataaha Museveni is the champion for EMTCT in Uganda.
Rationale for choice of First Lady:
For several years now, the First Lady of Uganda has spearheaded HIV/AIDS programs specifically for youth and couples, targeting skills building for primary abstinence and being faithful to each other, respectively. Her campaigns yielded a lot of impact and motivated youth and young adults to adopt protective behaviours and alternative livelihoods that would safeguard them from acquiring HIV and AIDS.
It is for the same reasons of dedication, commitment and passion as a mother of the nation that the First Lady has been named a Champion for EMTCT in Uganda. It is anticipated that she will scale up her commitment to steer the nation towards an HIV free generation.
Main areas of focus for the eMTCT Champion:
1. Advocate for appropriate strategic eMTCT policies:
Delivery of effective eMTCT services depends largely on a functional health system, within an appropriate policy framework. The First Lady will spearhead regular policy review efforts to ensure system efficiency.
2. Steer Key eMTCT Actors to achieve common eMTCT goals and results in a cost effective manner:
There is a national plan for accelerated elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV. The current annual eMTCT plan is fully costed and funded by various AIDS Development Partners. Implementation of this plan to deliver its targets requires dedicated leadership that will display clarity of the mind, passion of the heart and accountability. The First Lady shall lead a high level peer that will be constituted for mutual accountability.
3. Advocate for improved community involvement especially targeting male involvement:
There are many social and cultural factors that constrain mothers from utilizing available eMTCT services. These include their inability to take decisions concerning their sexuality and the necessary, yet unavailable financial and moral support of their spouses.
Additionally, Ugandans pay a lot of allegiance to community heads such as cultural, religious and political leaders. These play a significant role in influencing and shaping community and individual behaviours. The First lady will therefore play a significant role in mobilising such leaders to promote the eMTCT campaign.
4. Promote knowledge and learning exchange between eMTCT Stakeholders:
Some examples have been sited as areas where successful eMTCT implementation has taken place. Exchanges visits and experience sharing can act as motivation towards improved achievements.
5. Spearhead resource mobilisation for eMTCT and advocate for efficient utilisation:
This task involves engaging the health sector leadership both in the public and non public sectors to ensure optimum use of available resources for eMTCT. It also involves advocating and lobbying for more resources from government given that dependency on donors is very unsustainable. Also funding from donors need to be well coordinated to focus on effeciency and priorities including eMTCT.