Thousands of people in Karamoja, one of Uganda’s poorest regions, are starving as a result of prolonged drought, the increase of insecurity and its associated protection risks, as well as large-scale structural and chronic vulnerabilities.
At least 18 persons
living with HIV have reportedly succumbed to hunger-related complications in parts of Karamoja over the last month.
Thousands of people in Karamoja, one of Uganda’s poorest regions, are starving as a result of prolonged drought, the increase of insecurity
and its associated protection risks, as well as large-scale structural and chronic vulnerabilities.
people are in urgent need of food assistance with almost
428,000 individuals facing crisis levels of food insecurity and almost 90,000 in emergency levels. Additionally, 91,600 children and 9,500 pregnant women are projected
to be acutely malnourished for the period February 2022-January 2023, mainly in the districts of Kotido, Moroto and
Stella Amongin Acan,
the chairperson of Persons Living with HIV in Kotido district told URN
that they have registered up to 15 deaths amongst their clients, six of
who were children and nine were people of advanced age whose survival
depended on the uptake of anti-retroviral drugs.
Amongin explains that many of their clients have abandoned the life-prolonging treatment due to the
famine because they cannot be sustained on medication without food. She explains that although the Office of the Prime minister recently distributed food to five
sub-counties in Kotido district, there was no deliberate effort to reach out to persons living with HIV.
Medical records show that people on anti-retroviral treatment report
increased adverse effects if they are unable to eat and they are always
encouraged to ensure that they have an adequate diet while on ARVs. According to Medics, if a person with HIV skips doses of the drugs, the
virus can start copying itself in their body again. As a result, this
could cause HIV to become resistant to the drugs and if this happens,
the drug will no longer work, and that person will be left with fewer
options to treat their HIV.
Amongin is now appealing
to government and development partners to consider giving food Aid to persons living with HIV saying it’s the only way they can stop skipping their drugs.
in; ‘ and we lost 15 people...
out...medicine minor food."//
Hassan Khadir Naburi, a person living with HIV in Moroto District says that three of their members lost their lives in July after stopping their medication due to hunger. Naburi said they are still collecting data but
the available information indicates that several patients are malnourished
since their bodies lack nutrients and yet they are using strong pills for
‘’The main reason for skipping treatment among
our patients is lack of food, we have about 1300 patients enrolled for
treatment and all of them go through the same hardships,’’ he said and observed that the little relief food they
received helped selected patients to resume their
treatment but it was not enough since they shared it among their family members.
Paul Lokol, the LCV chairperson of Nabilatuk
district told URN that hunger is one of the most common causes of death among
people living with HIV and Tuberculosis. He said the patients are enrolled on
treatment and yet they don’t have food to help boost their immune system to fight
Lokol observed that both HIV, AIDS and TB patients
are so desperate for food and many say hunger will kill them if
there is no immediate intervention. He said the government should strengthen their
assistance to the region’s most vulnerable people who are battling the combined
effects of food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and TB.