Hoima. Communities in Hoima and Kikuube districts where commercially viable oil resources have been discovered are grappling with the HIV/Aids pandemic.
According to statistics from the Hoima District health information office, the two districts have registered new HIV infections over the last three years.
In 2012, Hoima alone registered 1,689 new HIV infections. In 2017, the new infections rose to 3,004 and last year, the district recorded 286 new infections.
As a way of intervention, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda, has contracted Kitara Development Initiative (KITADI) to implement a HIV mitigation strategy in its area of operation.
District health officials are undertaking HIV counselling and testing sessions, condom distribution, establishing condom banks in trading centres and distributing information and education materials about HIV.
“We are sensitising the communities to avoid contracting HIV and live healthy lives so that they remain productive. Health and safety is crucial in our operations” said Ms Aminah Bukenya, the CNOOC Uganda’s senior public relations supervisor.
She said CNOOC Uganda Ltd has observed an influx of people in the area as a result of oil and gas operations.
“As a responsible company, we are sensitising the people about HIV and advising them on mitigation measures” Bukenya said.
The sensitisation outreaches are being conducted in Buhuka, Kyangwali, Butoole, Kaseeta and Kabaale parishes in Kikuube District.
“The local community needs protection from HIV and other illnesses. We have many new comers here. If there are those who have come with diseases, we are at risk,” Mr Origino Ngamita, the Buhuka Parish chairperson, said during a recent community sensitisation outreach at Nsonga Landing Site.
The oil industry has attracted expatriate workers, emigrants and businessmen to the formerly remote areas on the shores of Lake Albert.