The Uganda Key Population Consortium #UKPC2020 in partnership with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) recently held a key stakeholders’ meeting to give a clear understanding of the #UKPC2020 road map as well as to recognize the consortium’s partners’ efforts in serving key populations in Uganda. The meeting was themed ‘A Holistic Approach to Addressing the Health Needs of Key Populations in Uganda’.
In her key note speech, Dr Karusa Kiragu- the Country Director of UNAIDS Uganda expressed her delight in seeing activists who were committed towards the struggle for equality for all. "... As UNAIDS, this is really the hallmark of where things happen when communities come together and push forward. And this small community has reverberations all through Uganda, East Africa and regions all through the world. So the work that you are doing is not limited to this room, country or just this region because the impact that you have is often picked up and is often amplified by many other people," Dr Karusa said.
Dr Karusa further congratulated UKPC on its upcoming second anniversary and encouraged the consortium to celebrate the vision and achievements attained despite the challenging and destabilizing past year which was characterized by several homophobic attacks. She then took them also shared the joint action plan being utilized by UNAIDS towards amplifying the work being done by KP communities globally in addressing all forms of HIV discrimination and stigma.
Several challenges were listed as hindrances that are limiting the delivery of HIV/AIDS services to key populations. These include implementation of the regressive NGO act which halts some activities held by KP led organizations, refusal of registration of certain CSOs and halting gatherings, specifically within the LGBT+ community, under the guise of being unlawful.
On behalf of Executive Director at SMUG which is also the current host of UKPC, Pepe Julian Onziema- the Programs Director of SMUG gave a brief background of UKPC which was formed to enable KPs occupy strategic and influential spaces as well as dismantle a system which didn't allow the inclusion of LGBTIQ communities in decision making within Uganda's health sector with a specific focus on HIV/ AIDS
Mr Onziema also appreciated the efforts of UKPC National Coordinator Richard Lusimbo towards bridging the gap between LGBT+ persons in the fight against HIV/ AIDS and service delivery. He further affirmed SMUG's commitment to support the consortium as it occupies, amplifies visibility and voices of key populations in spaces where they must be seen and heard.
In his overview, Richard LusImbo emphasized the need for key populatons HIV activists to retaliate and push back against shrinking spaces through stronger advocacy, cultivating solidarity and resisting divisions as they build coalitions based on mutual accountability with non KP HIV activists or entities. This strategy, he advised, would help to defeat HIV/AIDS by 2030 as we all secure accessibility to HIV treatment and prevention for all without any discrimination or stigma.
LGBTI/ SW community based organizations, partners and allies also gave presentations on the programs and strategies they were employing in the fight against HIV/ AIDS.
The event was then crowned by recognition of 11 different individuals and entities that have contributed to advocacy for accessibility of proper health care services to Uganda's key populations. Among the awardees, Kuchu Times Media Group was recognized with the Edoboozi (Voice) award 2019 for an individual or entity that has and continues to amplify the voices, texts and faces of the community through alternative media.