WAKISO – The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in partnership with USAID has launched the USAID Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Inter-regional Activity to reduce vulnerability and prevent new HIV infections among orphans and vulnerable children and adolescent girls and young women (AGYW).
Dr Martin Ssuuna, the Project Chief of Party noted that the 5-year project will focus on 11 districts in Uganda including Wakiso, Arua, Madi-Okollo, Nebbi, Pakwach, Kiryandongo, Masindi, Kikuube, Hoima, Kagadi, and Kibaale.
The USAID OVC inter-regional Activity is a $17.5 million investment by the US government to contribute to the USAID Uganda Country Development Cooperation Strategy (2022 – 2027).
“The target and mandate we have is to bridge over 70,000 primary beneficiaries and I’m glad to announce at this point that about 88% of these have been identified and service delivery has started for them,” said Dr Ssuuna.
“Efforts to identify others in the pockets within the communities we serve are ongoing and we’ll be happy to present a progress report in due course,” he added.
Dr Ssuuna noted that the interventions are mainly in three areas of health, education, youth and livelihood and areas of social protection to ensure the safety of children and youth in these communities.
“In the aspects of health, the focus is on the three 95s ensuring that the children and the youth are not lagging behind in attainment of the UNAIDS targets and that their caregivers are accessing essential services to ensure all children are free from the complications of HIV.”
Dr Andrew Kambugu, Executive Director, IDI first commended the US noting that “for the last 20 years, the US government acting on behalf of the people of the United States have demonstrated unusual generosity to the people of Uganda and to Africa through a landmark program called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has saved countless lives addressing HIV and AIDS.”
He added that for the last 20 years, the institute (IDI) has been constructing programs to make sure that they partner with the American people to save lives.
“As I stand before you today, I’m proud to say that IDI currently contributes about 25% of the cancer treatment in this country.”
He commended the funders for trusting them with the resources and promised utilize it for the intended purposes.
“I want to commit to you the guest of honor as a representative of the government of Uganda and to USAID that is supporting this work that IDI is up to the task,” said Dr Kambugu.
Julie Grier-Villatte, USAID Education, Youth and Child Development Office Director lauded the local partner, IDI, for doing a commendable job
“USA provides funding, in this case, PEPFAR funding, but we don’t get it done. You guys are doing the real work.”
She acknowledged the need for transition, noting that Ugandans are aware of their concerns better than anyone else.
“We really want Uganda and Ugandans to be taking the lead. You know better what you need, and how we can do it well, you don’t need us telling you.”
She noted that by October of this year, all orphans and vulnerable children programming will be implemented by Ugandan organizations.
According to Julie Grier-Villatte, younger groups under 25 are being impacted by HIV at higher rates which has long-term implications beyond just the health of each of those children and young adults.
Without assistance, she said that HIV can become fatal which can affect young people from achieving their full potential and from becoming resilient, productive citizens of their country.
“So for that reason, we continue to fund or for vulnerable children programming here in Uganda as well as around the world, we know that what happens in childhood and young adulthood, it doesn’t stop there.”
“These children can grow into adults who are more susceptible to mental health issues, substance abuse, criminal involvement, suicide, other health, physical health problems,” she noted.
The project, she re-echoed that it focuses on all of the things that children and young people need to be developmentally healthy as well as physically healthy including education, and parenting support.
The event was graced by the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs who was represented by Fred Ngabirano – Commissioner Youth and Children. She commended IDI and USAID for supporting Ugandan child and pledged government support.