Since a countrywide lock down went into effect on 31st March, 2020 so as to curb the further spread of the Corona virus pandemic, there has been a rise in various cases related to the violation of human rights. Several cases concerning the arrests, arbitrary detentions, and unfair treatment by the police and other law enforcers, especially towards women, became the song of the day.
Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) continues to call for action to change discriminatory laws and practices that have become significant barriers for access to health, employment and other services during this lockdown period.
Civil Society Organizations including the Uganda AIDS Commission and UGANET, a number of People Living with HIV/AIDS reported that existing restrictions on movement be revised in their interest to enable them to access vital treatment and services. Others reported cases of maternal deaths during childbirth because of the lack of access to health centers and hospitals due to the ban on public transport. It was soon crystal clear that the recent national directives and guidelines by President Yoweri Museveni and the Ministry of Health indeed inconvenience these people who are on treatment.
Dr. Nelson Musoba, Director General Uganda AIDS Commission, advised that as Uganda dealt with the Coronavirus pandemic, these communities were to be supported and aided to stay healthy.
“The Ministry of Health advised all the regional implementing partners, leaders of People Living with HIV/AIDS to work with the districts to ensure that critical HIV services are not interrupted. District health officers and in-charges of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clinics will ensure that staff is available at facilities to attend to the clients seeking HIV and TB services in the ART clinics, record details of clients served, quantify ARVs and other drug supplies and place emergency orders. The districts, with support from the implementing partners, should adopt the use of telephones and internet platforms to communicate to facilities and other stakeholders, including conduct training and mentorship,” he said.
In regards to discriminatory laws against persons living with HIV/AIDS, the Executive Director of UGANET, Dora Musinguzi Kiconco called for repealing of Section 41 on attempted transmission of HIV and Section 43 on intentional transmission of HIV in favor of Section 171 of the Penal Code Act adding that they are discriminatory and criminalizes such persons.
People living with HIV/AIDS should be given a chance to work and exploit their abilities or be given a certificate that can clearly confirm that they are incapable of performing their duties.