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People living with HIV face starvation in Amuru

The Aids Support Organization (TASO) centre in Gulu – Photo by Dominic Ochola

Amuru, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | More than 3,000 people living with HIV in Pabbo Town Council in Amuru District are facing severe starvation. 

The patients are enrolled under Pabbo Health Centre III; St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor and The Aids Support Organization – TASO in Gulu City for Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). The treatment requires nutrition management of drug and food to achieve higher quality care and support. 

However, Evelyn Aber, their Chairperson says that many of the patients have become very vulnerable, a regrettable situation partly attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown measures. 

Aber says that they have lost five patients who starved to death between May and November due to lack of food to support adherence to medication and the situation is not yet improving.

She further noted that during the difficult period they voiced their concerns through local radio stations and Action Aid Uganda intervened and donated food aid of 500 kilograms of maize flour and 250 kilograms of beans to 50 selected vulnerable patients.

Michael Ochow Okumu, the Team Leader at TASO says they are constrained by resources but encouraged the patients to endeavour to work hard to fend for themselves especially locally affordable vegetables which are simple to grow at the backyard. 

He added that TASO has undergone significant financial limitations under their new funder, the Uganda Protestants’ Medical Bureau after the Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in Northern Uganda, Acholi (RHITES-Acholi) engagement elapsed. 

Up to 3,222 people are registered under the Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Association in Pabbo Town Council. Being a porous border district, Amuru continues to record high HIV prevalence rate among youth, at 6.4 per cent annually. 

Medical experts assert that good diet supports helps maintain the immune system and also helps people with HIV maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medicines because of the virus attacks and destroys the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight off infections.

Dr Patrick Odong Olwedo, the Amuru District Health Officer, says they aware of incidences of patients abandoning ARVs due to starvation. 

However, he alluded that the district continues to reach out to the affected families to create awareness and confidence building to ensure all people living with HIV/Aids in the district receive their ARVs.



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