HIV/AIDS is a major issue facing the community of Kabalagala and contributes to the cycle of poverty. In February 2013, i.HUG teamed up with the Baylor College of Medicine, based at Uganda’s national referral hospital Mulago Hospital, to host an HIV testing event at the Kabalagala Community School. With nearly 200 children and family members that received counseling and were tested, it was a resounding success.
“We had the highest attendance ever,” said Constance Shumba, Director of Community & Health for i.HUG. “Parents came in big numbers and they brought their children, both those at KCS and their siblings. Most of the participants felt that this was a big service due to the good reputation of the hospital.”
The HIV testing day kicked off with welcome and introductions. This was followed by a health education sessions for adults and for children below 15 years that ran concurrently. Thereafter, all participants were invited for voluntary counseling and testing. All the classrooms at KCS were turned into counseling rooms and a laboratory space to accommodate the team of 22 staff from Baylor. Participants could be seen registering, going for the pre-test counseling, testing in laboratory and post test counseling.
In addition to the HIV counseling and testing, Baylor College of Medicine also set up a health desk manned by their Nurse for all participants to get treatment for any other ailments they had. Many participants could be seen leaving with various types of medications including antibiotics and antifungal creams. This added much value to the program.
All of the children that attend KCS come from families that lack access to basic necessities. “Thank you so much for bringing us these people from Mulago Hospital to give us this service–we are so happy that they came to us,” said one parent. “We have not paid anything for this service, and that is wonderful for us.”
Special thanks to Nurse Margaret who worked so hard with the Baylor team, and the entire KCS staff who participated in the testing exercise. Our sincere gratitude goes to the parents who brought the children for the HIV Testing Day and also participated. We are indebted to Baylor for responding to our request to conduct the HIV testing–we are grateful for their commitment to children’s health and well-being. We are also thankful for the small funds to make this day a success in view of the current financial constraints.