“Protect the Goal” Campaign in Uganda
Secondary Schools in Karamoja Region supported with Branded Social Behavior Change Communication Sports Materials for HIV Prevention
Local Communities in the Karamoja sub-region of Uganda have been urged to join in the fight against HIV/AIDs and specifically minimize stigmatization associated with it, if the efforts towards ending the epidemic by 2030 is to be realized. This call was made by Mr. Komakech Charles, the Chief Administrative Officer of Moroto District while officiating the handover of branded sports items to 38 secondary schools (public and private) by UNESCO under the “Protecting the goal” campaign, an initiative of UNESCO through the Joint United Nations Programme of support for HIV & AIDS and the civil society consortium with support from Irish Aid developed programs intended to scale up HIV & AIDS prevention in the region. The handover event for districts located in Northern Karamoja was held on 18 October 2021 in Moroto and 20 October 2021 for districts located in the southern part of the region in Nakapiripirit.
The goal of the programme is to reduce new infections in the Karamoja region whose prevalence rate stood at 3.7% by 2016 compared to other regions in the country according to UPHIA. However, socio-cultural and economic barriers that exist in the region which hinder HIV prevention among adolescents and young people especially the adolescent girls may accelerate HIV transmission. The campaign specifically targeted adolescents and young people in the 15- 24 age bracket with objectives centered around challenging negative social and cultural practices that limit access to quality HIV prevention, care and support services among young people using Sports as an entry point.
“We have fought this disease (HIV/AIDs) bravely as Government of Uganda together with other stakeholders from every angle using music, drama, sports. As government we have mainstreamed issues of HIV/AIDS in all activities and because of this approach, we have reached the milestones we have achieved so far.” Mr. Komakech noted. He further added that there is a lot of boredom among people and if their minds are occupied with sporting activities, they are more likely to live longer.
According to Ms. Teddy Chimulwa, the National HIV and Health Education Project Officer at UNESCO Project Office in Kampala, a comprehensive baseline survey on HIV conducted in 2016 in this region among adolescents and young people ages 10-24 years in Karamoja sub-region showed that only 71.7% had comprehensive knowledge on HIV yet 60.4% were sexually active. Furthermore 28.6% of the young people within the same age bracket had already had cross-generational sex and 36% were unaware of their HIV status. Ms. Chimulwa added that a number of risk factors such as sexual and gender-based violence, rape/defilement, forced marriages, tattooing, female genital mutilation (FGM), tooth removal among others were still rampant in the region and “Protect your goal” campaign was therefore aimed at providing an avenue to disseminate HIV prevention messages using games and sports as entry points. She further added that through sports, adolescents and young people develop life skills and teamwork and the same platform can be used for education and information dissemination as well as reduction of stigma.
The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education who was represented by Mr. Oketcho Nephital from the Physical Education and Sports (PES) department informed the stakeholders present during the handover event that the project targeted in and out of school youth as the primary beneficiaries, women and men as secondary beneficiaries. He further added that the strategy of using Sports was necessary so as to reach many young people with information and services building on other funded government programs.
Thirty-eight (38) schools from nine (9) districts in the Karamoja sub-region benefited from the “Protect the Goal” campaign. The districts were; Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Kaabong, Karenga, Napak, Kotido, Moroto, Abim and Nabilatuk. Among the key stakeholders present during the handover event were; District Education Officers, District Sports Officers, Head teacher Representatives, Host District Officials.