Poverty & Healthcare

The blight of malaria and HIV/AIDS

Life expectancy in Uganda is just 52 years (2009), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Treating HIV/AIDS

Despite the country’s success in combating HIV/AIDS, much work still needs to be done to help sufferers. For example, only 18% of infected children receive antiretroviral therapy, less than half the coverage of adults (at 43%).

Malaria is a huge problem throughout the country, with over 9.7 million cases reported in 2009 (WHO). See the video on the children discussing malaria. There are also regular outbreaks of serious diseases such as cholera.

Around 1.2 million adults (aged 15 or over) live with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS 2009) or 6.5% of the adult population. This represents a huge decrease from the 1990s, when nearly a third of adults were infected.

An estimated 1.2 million children have lost either one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

Attitudes of young Ugandans

Given the huge impact of HIV/AIDS, it is little wonder that young Ugandans have strong views about relationships. There is wide acceptance that intercourse should be kept for marriage, on both religious and safety grounds.

Homosexuality is also viewed by the majority of Ugandans as unnatural and morally wrong.

Improving nutrition

Essential nutrients

Vitamin A is essential for the membranes which protect the body’s organs, such as the eyes. Lack of the vitamin causes children to go blind and some even die from organ failure.

Though food is plentiful in most parts of Uganda, poor families are struggling to cope with rising inflation. Areas of the north also suffer from food shortages caused by instability and frequent drought. Overall, 16% of under-fives in Uganda are underweight (WHO 2000-2009) and many more are stunted (39%), lacking essential nutrients.

Since 2007, farmers in Uganda have been encouraged to grow sweet potatoes fortified with extra vitamin A. These cost a little more than ordinary sweet potatoes, but mothers are increasingly choosing to buy them because of the nutritional benefits for their children.