Anthrax: Rakai World AIDS Day attendees to follow SOPs

Cattle grazing at a farm in Uganda. Farmers have been asked to watch out for anthrax. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

  • The day will be themed: “Ending AIDS by 2030. Keeping Communities at the Centre.”

Attendees at this year’s World Aids Day commemoration will be required to follow strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) following an outbreak of anthrax in the neighbouring Kyotera District, the Ministry of Health has announced.

At Kibaale playground in Byakabanda Sub County, Rakai District will join the rest of the world in the annual event marked worldwide on December 1.

Anthrax was confirmed by the Ministry of Health on Monday after blood samples from three residents tested positive for the disease which has so far claimed 17 lives in the past one month.

The disease, which was reported in several villages of Kabira Sub County about a month ago, was earlier associated with witchcraft with many residents were visiting shrines to seek remedy.

Now, ministry of health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona says all public health guidelines like wearing facemasks and using sanitisers or washing hands with soap must be followed at the World Aids Day function where President Museveni is expected to be chief guest.

“We don’t emphasize this for just one day but it is something we must do daily especially when people gather in big numbers,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

On Monday, information emerged that government had shifted the commemoration from Rakai to Kayunga District due to the outbreak of anthrax in Kyotera but cabinet has dismissed the claims.

“The venue in Rakai District has been maintained and there is no change in the programme ,” senior presidential press secretary Sandor Walusimbi confirmed.

The day will be themed: “Ending AIDS by 2030. Keeping Communities at the Centre.”

Rakai, which is part of Masaka Sub-region is where the first HIV case in Uganda was identified in 1982.

The region has consistently had the highest HIV burden in the country at 10.6 percent in 2011, 8.0 percent in 2016 and 8.1 percent prevalence in 2020 respectively, according to data from three consecutive national HIV/Aids surveys.