NAPAK, Uganda - Karimojong couples who are previously not willing to go for voluntarily HIV/Aids testing have been lured to establish their zero status with free food at Iriiri health centre in Napak district.
Dr. Peter Kaunya the in charge of Iriiri health centre III said the decision to give free food to couples who would have taken the test was after them establishing that many of the men were not willing to accompany their pregnant women for voluntarily testing.
He said since the health centre introduced the program it has helped the health centre to test very many couples.
Dr. Kaunya said the food they are giving to the couples who test blood is part of the food that World Food Program gives to the health centres under Maternal and child health.
He said those who have accepted to go together with the pregnant women to test for blood are the group of those who can’t afford to buy meals at their villages but not those who earn salaries.
“Since we introduced this program early the month of June we have tested about 120 couples and we are expecting to reach 600 in the next coming two weeks because many are coming on daily basis,” he said.
The acting district health director Napak district Dr. Timothy Teko said the program of giving free food to the couples who test blood has reduced the burden by health officials of begging couples to go for voluntarily testing of HIV/Aids and counselling.
Dr. Teko confirmed that it was very hard to convince couples to go for blood testing adding that with the program of giving free food to those who test; very many men are now accompanying their pregnant women to go for blood testing.
He also noted that the current hunger which is hitting very many families in the district is also one of the contributors driving men to accept escorting their wives for blood testing.
“It has been a war and it’s still a war to convince men especially in Karamoja to accompany their women for voluntarily testing,” he said adding that most of them send women for blood testing and when the woman returns home they keep on asking her results.
He said the development is current happening in Iriiri health centre III adding that other health centres in the district are also advised to copy the tactic.