Click on the link to view the full document.STATEMENT BY DR. RICHARD NDUHUURA PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF UGANDA TO THE UN AT THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE WORLD DRUG PROBLEM.
Targeting People using and Injecting Drugs will contribute to reduced HIV prevalence rate in Uganda.
Bad Laws defy public health principles and show blatant disregard for PWUD dignity and human rights.
Uganda’s parliament passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, also known as the Narcotics Law. A draconian piece of legislation, the law purports to deter drug abuse by imposing inhumanely long prison sentences—a conviction for simple possession can land a person in a cell for 25 years.
The Narcotics Law defy public health principles and show blatant disregard for dignity and human rights.
These law target individuals who are already marginalized by society and most in need of health services and support: People struggling to manage drug dependence and other illnesses. Perhaps most harmful of all, parts of Ugandan society are interpreting these laws to justify violence and exclusion.
The law amount to a full-fledged assault on public health and, its implementation, is resulting into rampant misuse of imprisonment.
The Narcotics Act is blow to public health; the Narcotics Law penalizes possession of illicit drugs with 10 to 25 years in prison. Trafficking—which encompasses everything from small sales to international export—is punishable with a life sentence? Even those who never come across an illicit substance can find themselves trapped.
The law goes so far as to levy a five-year prison sentence for failure to disclose prior prescriptions for narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances (including those held for pets and farm animals) when receiving a new prescription. Punitive laws like this push people away from health and social services that are vital to managing drug dependence, preventing transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C, and supporting people to live full and productive lives.
There is growing evidence that drug users have high HIV prevalence’s though at national level there has not been any meaningful engagement of PWUD in the fight against HIV to this effect. Available national information through a combination of UNAIDS and UNODC data, provide estimates that HIV prevalence rate of PWID in Uganda is 11.7%, also a study conducted in Kampala by (Most At Risk Population (MARPS) Network in 2012-2013) highlighted HIV prevalence at 17% among injecting drug users. However little attention is being given to them and yet they may have a major contribution to the 7.3% (Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey 2011) prevalence of the total population of Uganda.
People who use drugs (PWUD), including people who inject drugs (PWID), are marginalized and stigmatized in most societies; and often are at increased risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, Hepatitis, and other blood-borne pathogens. These populations are hard to reach and often, least able to access and least likely to utilize HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. Therefore, HIV prevention programs by partners and government need to be developed or tailored to effectively target, reach, and address the particular needs of PWUD in Uganda.
The HIV Prevention and Management Act (HIV Law)
Uganda’s HIV Law criminalizes transmission and “attempted transmission” of HIV. From a legal perspective, the law’s broad language makes it particularly dangerous. Just about anyone who is HIV-positive can be accused of attempting to transmit HIV—an accusation that could get a person fired, evicted, or bludgeoned by a vigilante group.
From a public health perspective, decades of work on HIV shows that criminalization deters people including PWUD from getting tested and those living with HIV from accessing other HIV services because they think that if they don’t know their status, they can’t be accused of transmitting HIV.
“Drug use in Uganda is on the rise. We need an open environment in which we can share information and talk about addiction,” said a representative of the Uganda Harm Reduction Network – Syrus. “By further criminalizing drug use, the laws push PWUD into the shadows. PWUD are afraid to talk and afraid to seek much-needed medical help because the government has now definitively positioned drug use as a justice issue, rather than a health issue.”
Uganda Harm Reduction Network–UHRN featured in the Key Population Led Research and Analysis report of Key Population Experts Group of more than thirty five individuals representing four key population groups – sex workers, men having sex with men (MSM), people who use drugs (PWUD) and transgender people, drawn from sixteen countries across Africa.Click for full report:Third Africa Key Population Experts Group Meeting Report 150515(1) and Model Regional Strategic Framework on HIV for Key Populations in Africa-1
Key affected populations in Uganda continue with the struggle to ensure their legitimate direct representation in Uganda’s Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism
Today 5th-Feb-2015, in Kampala civil society groups representing key affected populations, including sexual and gender minorities and drug users, spoke out against the election process for key affected populations for an important Ugandan policy setting body—the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Country Coordinating Mechanism.Visit the link for details: http://www.healthgap.org/key_affected_populations_in_uganda_continue_struggle_to_ensure_their_legitimate_direct_representation_in_uganda_s_global_fund_country_coordinating_mechanism
A ONE DAY REPORT FOR UHRN’s WORLD AIDS DAY 2014 CELEBRATION SUPPORTED BY ITPC
On the 18-Dec-2014 Uganda Harm Reduction Network with its members gathered at UHRN’s resource center to celebrate the world Aids day. The activity was organized by Uganda Harm Reduction Network attended by 25 participants with support from ITPC. The Global theme for the World AIDS Campaign 2014 was “Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.” The Uganda’s theme for this year’s celebration was “Re-engaging Communities for Effective HIV Prevention” and the slogan was “Accelerating community action towards zero new infections.” Clickto view a full report: UHRN’S WORLD AIDS DAY CELEBRATIONS 2014
Photo Below:Drug Users Lighting Candles and observing a moment of silence in commemoration of the souls of drug users who have died as victims of HIV /AIDS in Uganda
A COMMUNITY DIALOGUE REPORT ON A VICTORY CEREMONY OF UHRN’s TARGET FOOT BALL CLUB (UHRN’s drug user Soccer Club) HELD AT KATABA- KABALAGALA ON 6th DEC 2014.
photo Below: UHRN’s Soccer Club Victory party celebration in Kataba-Kabalagala
On 6 December 2014, Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN) invited its members, partners and friends in Kabalagala Kataba to attend a victory ceremony to celebrate the UHRN’s Soccer team’s win for the Mike Mabike’s Cup Tournament. The Cup Tournament was supported by former MP Mike Mabike of Makindye Division, and the victory ceremony was held at Miringo’s residence in Kabalagala. Visit link below to view a full report:
A REPORT ON A ONE DAY STAKEHOLDERS’ NATIONAL DIALOGUE TO RAISE AWARENESS ON THE IMPACT OF THE HIV PREVENTION AND CONTROL ACT 2014 AMONG PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS IN UGANDA
The objective of the National stakeholders ‘dialogue was to raise awareness on the impact of the HIV prevention and control act 2014 among people who use drugs and identify and priotize key interventions to reduce on its negative effects in Uganda. Visit link to view a full report: UHRN FINAL REPORT ON A ONE DAY STAKEHOLDERS ON RAISING AWARENESS ON THE IMPACT ON HIV Act 2014 (1)
World Drug report 2014 shows why Entebbe Airport is origin destination for traffickers – See more at: http://www.independent.co.ug/news/news-analysis/9162-how-big-is-ugandas-drugs-problem
In Pictures: Uganda’s thriving drug scene
Uganda’s parliament is debating a tough new narcotics-control bill that critics say would unfairly punish the poor. See more at:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2014/10/pictures-uganda-thriving-drug-20141031101312851406.html#.VGBg9Lb8Yfc.wordpress
UHRN Write up on the PWUDs and Sex workers’ HIV Situation in Uganda
Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN) is a registered non-governmental organization working to advocate for practical interventions aimed at supporting and addressing the health and socio-economic rights for people who use drugs in Uganda. Visit link for details:- UHRN Write up on the PWUDs and Sex workers’ HIV Situation in Uganda
UHRN’s Comprehensive Health Care Programs for people who use drugs in Uganda
UHRN Overdose Cross Learning Dialogue Held on Sunday, 31 Aug 2014
On Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 –Uganda Harm Reduction Network and its Partners around Kampala Uganda gathered at UHRN’s resource Centre to commemorate the International- Overdose Awareness Day. The event was aimed at raising awareness on the overdose risks, prevention, stigma and misery felt by families and friends of those who have met permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. Visit the link for details:- UHRN’s Report on Overdose Cross Learning Dialogue Held on Sunday, 31 Aug 2014
Gay’s law was misunderstood by West – Government
The government of Uganda has reaffirmed that no activities of individuals, groups, or organisations will be affected by the Act whose intention is to stop promotion of homosexual practices.Link:http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Gays-law-was-misunderstood-by-West—government/-/688334/2375562/-/6to2q8/-/index.html
UGANDA SAFE ABORTION CAMPAIGNING ADVOCACY PROJECTWORKSHOP REPORT ORGANISED BY WGNRR UNDER LOGISTICAL SUPPORT OF UGANDA HARM REDUCTION NETWORK (UHRN), FUNDED BY SAAF
Click here for the report:-Uganda SAAF CB1 Workshop Report 2014
A REPORT ON AN HCT ACTIVITY HELD IN KALERWE ON 26th JUNE 2014 TO COMMEMORATE THE INTERNATIONAL – DAY – AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING SUPPORTED BY UGANDA HARM REDUCTION (UHR) IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MARPI MULAGO UNDER THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH.
On the 26th June 2014 Uganda Harm Reduction in Partnership with Most at Risk Populations Initiative (MARPI Mulago) under the ministry of Health conducted an HCT activity to deliver integrated HIV counseling, testing and treatment services to the key population group of people who use drugs in Kalerwe Dhobi zone, kawempe division – Kampala City. The event was organized to commemorate the International – Day – Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The event was graced by a sensitisation session for drug users from Kalerwe Dhobi zone, kawempe division – Kampala City.
The objective of the HIV Testing and Counseling (HCT) activity was to deliver integrated HIV counseling, testing and treatment services to the key population group of people who use drugs in Kalerwe Dhobi zone, kawempe division – Kampala City. The activity was manned by Uganda Harm Reduction in partnership with MARPI Mulago under Ministry Of Health.
Uganda Harm Reduction’s Tushabe Janefer – the outreach coordinator and Lukwago Hamza – the Outreach worker kawempe Division mobilized over two hundred of UHR’s members (drugs users) in Kalerwe Dhobi zone, kawempe division – Kampala City with the support from MARPI Mulago working under the Ministry Of Health.
The Uganda Harm Reduction’s Outreach team managed to meet the local council team in Dhobi Zone Kalerwe to seek the Chairman’s permission and the venue for the event which Mr. Dirisa the chairman welcomed and accepted.Visit the link for details:- UHR in Partnership with MARPI HCT ACTIVITY in KALERWE on 26th June 2014
UGANDA HARM REDUCTION NETWORK (UHRN) PRESS RELEASE ON SENSITISATION PROGRAM ON THE RIGHTS TO SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH FOR FEMALE DRUG USERS IN THE 5 DIVISIONS OF KAMPALA UGANDA.
Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN) is an NGO established in 2011, Reg No. 181733 by former drug users to provide a national platform and reduce the health, social and economic harms associated with “drug use”. UHRN seek to develop a supportive environment for the implementation and expansion of harm reduction programmes for Drug Users in Uganda.
On 11th April 2014–Uganda Harm Reduction Network and its Partners around Kampala Uganda gathered at UHRN’s resource Centre to commemorate the International-day-for-maternal-health-and-rights. The event was graced by a sensitisation forum for female drug users from the five Divisions of Kampala. This forum was aimed at educating female drug users on their right to sexual and reproductive health based on the theme ‘Know your rights.’
Matters discussed included maternal mortality, family planning, access to safe abortion services, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and gender based violence. The program focused on empowering female drug users to take responsibility and make informed choices on issues related to sexual and reproductive health.
UHRN firmly believes that access to information and knowledge on these issues empowers female drug users to be strong and aware, particularly in situations where they feel that their rights are being threatened.
This can be achieved through discussion and information-sharing, but also through interactive role plays containing key messages to help the female drug users in the five divisions of Kampala to ‘know their rights.’ Forum participants were given the opportunity to ask questions during the final session of the day, which allowed participants to develop a deeper understanding of their human rights as they apply to their specific situations, and allow them to feel, empowered to claim their rights in an everyday context.
UHRN is dedicated to reduce violations against female drug users in the five divisions of Kampala and other parts of Uganda through education and awareness-raising.
Click to download the Press Release: UHRN Press Release SRRHs ON 11 April 2014
Hepatitis E death toll ‘now at 23’Publish Date: Mar 19, 2014
Karamoja region is badly hit by Hepatitis E, a disease that has left 967 people infected, according to the latest health ministry report.
The number of people killed by Hepatitis E, a liver viral disease, in Karamoja region now stands at 23, while 967 other individuals have been infected, according to the latest report from the ministry of health.
This is an increase from 15 deaths reported in early February when the ministry had last updated the public about the epidemic.
Earlier, it was assumed the disease, which was first confirmed in Napak district on December 1, 2013, had come under control.
But Dr. Diana Aceng, the director general of health services, said there has been increasing transmission in the communities, affecting mostly females.
The disease has since spread to other districts of Moroto, Kotido, Nakapiripirit, Abim, Amudat, Katakwi and Amuria.
“At least 967 cases of Hepatitis E infections including 23 deaths have been reported as of March 16, 2014,” she said.
“The disease has increased the risk of maternal death in the Karamoja sub region. A total of 15 (65.7%) of the 23 deaths occurred in expectant mothers, several leaving behind premature babies.”
She made the disclosure during a high level advocacy meeting on Hepatitis E organised by the ministry at the Kampala Golf Course Hotel on Tuesday.
Several government ministers and senior officials from different sectors and development partners attended the meeting during which they used to advocate for increased funding to avert the pandemic.
Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus, a non-enveloped virus transmitted mainly through drinking contaminated water. The infection usually resolves within four to six weeks, occasionally developing into acute liver failure, which can lead to death.
Globally, there are approximately 20 million incidents of hepatitis E infections and 57,000 related deaths every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Hepatitis E is found in faeces of infected individuals and is spread by consuming drinks or foods that have been contaminated with feaces. The disease is commonly seen in communities that don’t have clean water or latrines.
Karamoja region, where Napak is found, is prone to Hepatitis E because of its low latrine coverage and lack of safe drinking water. Over 75% of households in the 27,900sqkm sub-region lack access to latrines, according to ministry of water and environment reports.
Speaking at the meeting, WHO’s representative in Uganda Dr. Wondi Alemu implored the Government to earmark adequate resources to improve safe water coverage in Karamoja.
Barbra Nekesa, the state minister for Karamoja Affairs, suggested recourse to pumping underground water instead of relying on boreholes which often breakdown. Link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/653681-hepatitis-e-death-toll-now-at-23.html
Drug abuses on the rise, police say
The increase in consumption and trade in illicit drugs among Ugandans is worrying the police that the Force is seeking stronger laws to curb the practice. The statistics of police narcotics unit shows that police seizures of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine increased by more than thrice in comparison to 2012 statistics.
The head of the Narcotics Unit, Mr James Kyomukama, said they are achieving minimal success in combating trade in illicit drugs because court fines to drug traffickers are less than the worthiness of the drugs they were carrying or trading in.
“Ugandans are now consuming more heroin and cocaine. When a person is arrested with contrabands, he or she is fined Shs1m in court on conviction or sentenced to months in jail, which isn’t punitive enough. We need the bill to be passed by Parliament to enable us fight narcotics,” Mr Kyomukama said.
In 2013, police seized 32.3kgs of heroin and 67.68kg of cocaine in comparison to 11.9kg and 17.2kgs seized in 2012 respectively.Police also seized 32.20kg of Methamphetamine, 16.40kgs Ephedrine, 1835kgs marijuana herbs, 284kgs marijuana seeds and 105 acres of marijuana were destroyed in the same year.
He said marijuana consumption in Uganda was predominate in Busia, Mityana, Wakiso, Luweero, Yumbe and Nakaseke districts, adding that there is a need to use aerial spraying because the acreage of marijuana is so big to be uprooted with traditional tools such as hoes and machetes.
Needle and Syringe Programs for IDUs save Lives and Money.
There are many myths surrounding Needle and Syringe programs (NSPs).Lets join hands and help to debunk these myths!
Drug Users: HIV Prevalence 17% more than double that of general population in Kampala.
Download the report here:- Crane Survey – Select 2012-2013 survey findings – CBO meeting – Dec 2013
Drug Use on the Rise in Uganda:
Ali Warsame, a resident of Mengo-Kisenyi, spends the better part of his day chewing mairungi- a common narcotic drug leaf.
For the last five years, mairungi, internationally known as khat, has been his bread and butter because it helps him beat hunger and stay awake. Indeed, looking beneath his ripped, pale blue jeans, I see a bunch of the leaves ready for chewing.
Warsame migrated to Uganda in 2007 after the Somalia civil war robbed him of his parents and siblings. He has since lived a destitute life, doing drugs and spending his nights and days in open shelters.
Although mairungi trade and consumption is considered illegal in Uganda, he takes it publically and so do his Somali colleagues. Previously, drug use was associated with casual labourers, but lately there has been gradual growth with even high-end consumers, the latest case being, reportedly, the late Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda whose death has been linked to drug abuse.
Drug users display signs of increased alertness, excitement, energy, talkativeness, decreased appetite and difficulty in sleeping. Health experts believe drug use in Uganda is on the increase and is being propagated as ‘trendy’ amongst the youth and corporates. However, these drugs bear negative health effects which most users are ignorant of.
Cocaine, in its purest form, is white although what is sold in Uganda is usually mixed with other substances like baking soda, sugar and other drugs like CPZ lime giving it a pinkish or off-white colour. Arua park is the dealers’ place.
Chris Mugarura, a peer mentor with the Anti-Drug and Alcohol Abuse Movement (ADDAM), says cocaine may be eaten, smoked, snorted or injected into one’s body.
He adds that a user may be jittery and paranoid after consumption and with an overdose, a person may hallucinate, become delusional or even unconscious. In February last year, Jeffery Rice, a freelance producer of The Amazing Race reality TV show, died of an overdose of cocaine. Rice and his assistant, Katheryne Fuller were found unconscious on the Serena hotel balcony in Uganda.
According to an article on drug abuse on doctorrennie.wordpress.com, patients who use cocaine are often high, have red spots on their nose or ears and blisters on the thumb and index finger of their dominant hand and scabs or burns around the lips. It also increases the stickiness of platelets and, therefore, increases risk of heart attack or stroke.
“Due to its euphoria-inducing effects as well as its ability to increase sex drive, it usually makes people engage in more sex than they normally would, which may spread disease, especially HIV,” Andrew Sempebwa, a counsellor, says.
In its purest form, heroin, locally called embaawo, is a white powder but is mostly brown in colour because of the presence of impurities. Heroin is usually measured with an overgrown nail on the little finger and each scoop costs about Shs 20,000 whereas a gramme costs Shs 60,000.
“A tin foil containing heroin powder is heated underneath and this turns it into liquid. Users, therefore, either inhale the fumes or inject the liquid,” Mugarura explains.
Heroin can also be smoked. Among the signs an addict may show include calmness when high, mental confusion, lack of hygiene, poor appetite and bright eyes. According to an article titled ‘Heroin abuse and use’ on http://www.indiaparenting.com, overconsumption of heroin may lead to weak veins, infections like HIV from infected needles and death.
Heroin is mainly produced in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 30-35 tons of Afghan heroin is trafficked into East Africa annually, most of it destined for Europe. It is traded in the appearance of soap or cake and later broken down into powder.
Marijuana or weed, enjagga, ganja or dude is smoked and dissolved in water for consumption. It is a green or brown mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the Cannabis Sativa plant. According to the police narcotics section, marijuana is mainly grown in Wakiso, Mukono, Luweero, Kalangala, Masaka, Bushenyi, Kyenjojo, Iganga, Busia and Bugiri districts.
“At only Shs 300 a stick, marijuana is easily available, making it the commonest drug in Uganda; even cops use it,” Mugarura says.
In Kampala, 30 hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes cost about Shs 10,000 and it is less in rural areas.
“Signs and symptoms may include restlessness, inability to experience pleasure, fatigue, increased sleep, vivid dreams, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, drug craving and increased appetite,” Sempebwa says.
He adds that overconsumption can lead to insomnia or increased sleep, depression and possible suicidal thoughts.
It is a highly addictive tobacco product packed in sachets similar to tea leaves. This may be added to tea or just licked on its own. According to Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, the tobacco focal point person in the Health ministry, kuber is rich in nicotine which increases incidences of heart attacks and stroke, thin hair and sudden mood alterations among others.
It is being widely consumed by secondary school students and taxi drivers. Results of a research conducted by the Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) in 2011 reveal that kuber, apart from tobacco, also contains cocaine, marijuana, cannabis or combinations of these which may lead to hormonal change, impaired brain development, mental health disorders and heart problems among other effects.
Kuber is often chewed with mairungi leaves, sucked or taken with hot water as a beverage, resulting in one feeling drunk. It is sold in shops and supermarkets.
Roderick Ssali (not real name) first tasted beer during his S.6 vacation under peer influence. As the only one working, hence the richest in the group, his friends often lured him with ‘plot’ of clubs every night.
“I made friends with corporate guys I found in club and they introduced me to ‘hard stuff’ and those days, it was hard to find me without a hangover,” Ssali narrates, adding that these friends encouraged him to kill the hangover with a colder beer.
Soon, he was caught up in the vicious cycle of boozing, so much so that he was known by the sellers who would sometimes give him booze on credit. Ssali lost his job with Eagle Air because of work backlog. Nevertheless, he never gave up on booze and went in for local brew fondly called ‘Kasese.’ However, with the constant counselling of his mother, Ssali overcame the vice.
Alcohol addiction is common especially among the youth. In Uganda, youth prefer strong local spirits like Royal Gin, Signature Vodka, Beckham Gin and Tyson Waragi, which are easily accessible in miniature sachets at low prices. According to the Uganda Youth Development Link Report on the state of alcohol abuse in Uganda, poisoning due to alcohol causes about 100 deaths annually.
Other substances abused include petrol and tobacco. Petrol is sniffed either from small bottles or from soaked cloth and is mostly used by urban youth and street children. Dr Possy Mugyenyi, the manager of Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), says that apart from cigarettes, tobacco can be consumed by eating dark chocolates, mouth fresheners and chewing tobacco leaves.
“Excessive exposure of one’s body to tobacco increases the risk of oral and lung cancers and aneurysm (abnormal widening of a portion of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel),” he explains.
High-end places for drugs
Mugarura says most of the drug dealers are found in areas of Kabalagala and Kasanga because of the proliferation of foreigners and in slums across the country. Target places where these drugs are sold include house parties, university students’ hostels, private hotel parties, bars, bashes locally known as ‘ebiggunda’, schools and clubs, among others.
Causes of drug use and abuse
Sempebwa says that the availability of the drugs on the market and glorification of drugs on the internet, TV and bashes draws people to their use.
“Look at the people the media glorifies – celebrities. These are the people who use drugs and sometimes promote the use of drugs and many youths go in for drugs because a celebrity is using them,” he says.
Also many youth experiment with substances as an acceptable part of transition into adulthood, to relieve stress, relax, to withstand cold weather and for adventure’s sake.
“There is no medicine against this addiction but it is only one’s willingness to stop and those around him/her should be patient and offer the necessary support,” Sempebwa says.
However, Fredrick Ssekyana, the spokesman at the National Drug Authority, says there is also a considerable abuse of over the counter and prescription medicines such as slimming tablets, painkillers (analgesics), tranquilisers and cough mixtures, which needs to be checked.