NEBBI. Alur kingdom chiefs have pledged to address key cultural practices that facilitate the spread of HIV/AIDS in the community.
In a meeting with Uganda AIDS commission Wednesday, the chiefs identified six key cultural practices that include Child marriage, widow inheritance, wife beating, extended marriage ceremonies (Keny) traditional social gathering, extended time for traditional dance (Agwara and Ndhara) as been facilitators of HIV/AIDS spread in the kingdom.
Mr Santus Openjtho Jadipu of Ayeveni chiefdom said the cultural practices have greatly impacted on the fight against HIV/AIDS. He suggested that practices like widow inheritance should be abolished completely while traditional marriage (Keny) should be reduced from one week to just a single day.
He further said time for social gatherings in the traditional Agwara and Ndara dance should be regulated to end by 7:00 pm.
“We are ready to start dialoguing with the communities about some of these negative cultures and the bad behaviors that are greatly impacting on the fight against HIV/AIDS” he said
Rt. Hon Vincent Ochaya Orach, the prime minister Alur Kingdom said there is need to document best cultural practices in reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence because negative cultural practices like widow inheritance still exist in the community.
“We should check attitude towards the negative cultural practices and monitor and control anti-social behaviors of especially the youth which is worse during the season grasshoppers. You (chiefs) need to work with the local government to regulate the harvest of grass hoppers” he advised.
Ms Susan Chandiru from Uganda AIDS commission said they highly regard the cultural institutionS in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a reason they want to continue working with them to promote dialogue on social values, HIV, gender and also document best practices in realizing the implementation of HIV/AIDS successes in the country.
She said the commission was also developing an action plan for the implementation of the first track HIV/AIDS initiative to end AIDS as a public threat in Uganda.
“We all know that Uganda was very reputable in bringing down the HIV epidemic from the 80s in which we realized more achievements between the 80s and 90s. However, between 2000 and 2011 we lost track, our focus changed and there was a lot of complacence where many people were taking HIV as a normal disease” she said.
The steps taken by the chiefs will help in reducing High risk sexual behaviors including early marriage multiple sexual relationships, inconsistency in condom use among others.
Mr Christopher Omara, the resident district commissioner of Nebbi said the level of teenage pregnancy in the district is high which is an indicator that HIV/ AIDS prevalence is also high.