Uganda to Send Top Economists to South Sudan

PM Rugunda(middle) talking to the VP of S. Sudan H.E.  James Wani Igga recently (Photo by PMPU).

By Proscovia Basangwa

The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Hon. Mrs. Janet Museveni, illness who is also Champion for the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV, site has accepted to become the national champion for Ending AIDS among Adolescents in Uganda.

This was after a request made by the UN Heads of Missions to Mrs. Janet Museveni to provide leadership in advocacy for the plight of adolescents in Uganda.

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The UN Mission Heads who included the UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Ahuna Eziakonwa, this site UNICEF’s Aida Girma, WHO’s Dr. Alemu Wondimagegnehu, UNAIDS’s Musa Bungudu, UNFPA’s Fundira Esperance, and Hodan Addou of the UNWOMEN were meeting the First Lady recently at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala.

The meeting also attended by the Minister of State for Primary Health Care Sarah Opendi Ochieng and Executive Director OAFLA Uganda Beat Bisangwa, dialogued on the AIDS deaths rise among adolescents and the need for a multi-sectoral approach to advocate for the plight of adolescents in Uganda.

According to the UNAIDS Gap report 2014 about 350 adolescents in Uganda get infected with HIV every week.

Janet Museveni noted that the current adolescents’ problems in the country show the weaknesses and failures of the families where parents have relegated their parental roles.

“We need to look at how to involve the families and remind them of their responsibility”, she emphasised.

She said adults should guide the children on how to protect themselves from unsafe sex and be reminded to change their behaviours, avoid irresponsible lifestyles and learn to live within their means.

She advised stakeholders to always plan to eradicate HIV completely instead of just reducing it.

Mrs Museveni thanked the UN family for always being there and continuing to galvanise the stakeholders not to lose focus in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Minister of State for Primary Health Sarah Opendi observed that 24 percent of mothers who die in Uganda are teenagers. She reported that campaigns against early marriages have started and some Districts have already come up with ordinances.

Dr. Eziakonwa said the UN team is inspired by the First Lady’s leadership in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and the results registered in a short period and that that is why they want her to lead the agenda to address teenage pregnancies too.

UNFPA’s Fundira Esperance emphasized that investing in adolescent health will contribute to reducing maternal mortality.

UNAIDS Country Coordinator Musa Bungudu pointed out the HIV risk factors for adolescents which include gender based violence, abuse and exploitation, intergenerational sex and early marriages, unfair policies and legislation that deprive adolescents of their say in matters related to health, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, Low HIV risk perception, high school dropouts at various levels of Education and disintegrating family and socioeconomic structures

The UN family requested for the setting up of a committee comprising Ministers of Education, Gender, Health, Finance and Parliamentarians to support implementation of adolescents laws, policies and programmes.

They also encourage senior influential individuals in Government and civil societies to become champions of the adolescent girl in addressing HIV, sexual  and reproductive health, early pregnancies, early marriages, and maternal and child health issues.
The Government of South Sudan is facing acute shortages of foreign currency because of the drop in its oil export earnings, more about hence Sudanese importers cannot pay for their imports in hard currency.

James Wani Igga, cheap the Vice-President of South Sudan has therefore embarked on consulting with the regional governments to assist in revamping their economy.

While meeting the Ugandan Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, following an earlier meeting with the President, the South Sudan Vice President said there was need for assistance to diagnose the economic situation in his country and come up with practical solutions to revamp it.

He informed Dr. Rugunda that a workshop was being organized in Juba next month, to consider the economic state in the country and find short and long term solutions to revive the ailing economy.

He said the workshop will be attended by economic experts from the regional member states.

“The workshop will be representative and the resolutions thereafter will be utilized by parliament and the Executive,” he said.

Wani particularly requested Uganda Government to assemble a team of experts from URA, Ministry of Finance, Bank of Uganda and the National Planning Authority to join others from the region for the workshop.

On his part, Rugunda said President Museveni took the discussions he held with the South Sudan Vice President seriously and composed a team of experts who are ready for the Juba economic workshop due on May 5.

The Prime Minister shared Uganda’s economic revival experience with the visiting delegation.

“The state of the economy in South Sudan affects the economy in Uganda. Therefore it is in our interest to fix the economic challenges in that country,” Rugunda said.

The conflict that began in December 2013 in South Sudan continues to affect the lives of millions of people. It has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country.

The major humanitarian consequences are widespread displacement due to the violence; high rates of death, disease, and injuries, severe food insecurity and disrupted livelihoods, and a major malnutrition crisis.

Some 5.8 million people are estimated to be in some degree of food insecurity as of September 2014. This number is projected to increase to 6.4 million during the first quarter of 2015.

The people in need for the coming year include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced people and a projected 293,000 refugees.

Within South Sudan, the most acute needs are found in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile, the three states that have seen the most active hostilities.


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