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Take TB seriously

Let me start by welcoming all of you from different districts to our district here of Gulu (applause). You are most welcome. Since we are actually concluding this meeting early enough, I still invite you to remain and to look around the beauty of Gulu District.

I am very happy that we have done commendable work from morning to now. What we have done here is really quality and great work. I want to thank all of you very, very much.

This is a workshop where I observed that people did not move out. I always go for meetings like this, people move out. You find that may be we started with 30 people, by the time of winding up there would be only 15 or so. But here we remained and we were committed (applause). Everybody was committed. I wish we can always remain committed in whatever we do, the way we have been committed here. I must thank you very much.

The CPAR (CPAR Uganda Ltd) Board, I have seen you are very committed people (applause). Very committed the Chairman (Prof. Christopher G. Orach, CPAR Board Chair) and the Moderator (Mr. Alex B. Okello, CPAR Finance Committee Chair) are; and I see the members of the Board, please thank you very much.

I thank very much CPAR for thinking along this line. It is important that we all push. You are all from different sectors. We have the administrators. We have the political wing and also the civil society organisations. What we have been discussing is actually all of us. If all of us put it together then we are going to succeed.

When we talk about awareness - who are the people who are to create more of this awareness in the community? It is not mainly the politicians. Sometimes we push it to the civil society organisations and also to the technical people. We say: “technical people should produce education, information, communication materials.”

At least I saw when we worked very much on Ebola, that material was produced. And when we talked of material like that, yes, we also have radio programmes, TV programmes, but also reading materials where we put it everywhere and easy to read; probably translated into major languages of the Country.

We say: “if you want to hide information then put it in writing.” We have a very poor culture of reading, but at least a few people can read. And those technical people whenever they go down to the communities they can read for others in the community.

We really need to take this one seriously. We have never taken TB (tuberculosis) seriously. It has never come to our attention very much. Although I belong to the Committee of Health of Parliament, I did not know that at any one time funding for TB was requested, like say 11 billion and they were never given. And sometimes you know they are given less than 50 percent of what they request for.

It is important that this is going to open our eyes. All the members of the Health Committee of Parliament will become aware and get to know that TB is something which is very serious. And as members of parliament, not only members of parliament, but even district councils and sub-county councils, they need to take up this one seriously in the budget.

Right now we are already in the budget process for the next financial year. We should take it up. We usually ask the technical people to help us. We cannot do this on our own. It is usually the technical people who bring out their budget. We look into the budget and where we put our foot down it means that there are indicators.

But with TB the indicators are not there so much. For example, when our people died very much with Hepatitis B, we decided to put our foot down. We said, without identifying this money (for fighting Hepatitis B) we are not going to pass this budget.

With TB, the condition has not yet escalated to that level, to make us demand order and put our foot down. You know, what we manage is tax payers’ money. So we must also be very sensitive to have the tax payer benefit. If not, they will say these people are a bunch of useless people, wasting our time. The way, right now the health sector is feeling.

Above all, the technical people need to help us with data. Just like we have been told,  when you go to prison, before you enter, they are already telling you: “we have so many inmates, those in remand, and those convicted, those ...” They just put all those details to you at once when you enter you know the data at that prison.

So, we also need the technical people to help us, because as politicians we are very poor at that. But if you help us, then we realise there are problems here or not.

CPAR was here in Gulu before, I don’t know now which people are in their building, because they built it themselves. We are grateful to get to know that you have your building here. And we still welcome you here.

I am only disappointed with my district, because I wanted to see ... is there somebody here representing our district as a District Health Officer? I don’t see. How about Chairperson? I don’t see and yet we are the host district. This is very unfortunate.

We only have a representative of the RDC (resident district commissioner). I thank the office of RDC very much, because I contacted him and he told me he was on leave and he sent a representative; the representative is here.

For those of us from Gulu let us try to encourage others also to come whenever we are hosting meetings like this, because it is important for our people.

May God bless you all of you. I wish all of you a safe journey.

I say all of this, for God and my Country.

(Thunderous applause)

 

Hon. Aol Betty Ochan, Woman Member of Parliament, Representing Gulu District made these remarks in her capacity as the guest of honour at high level policy workshops on TB in Uganda that were conducted by CPAR Uganda Ltd on Monday, 27th November 2017 in Gulu. The workshops were attended by 32 leaders – health experts, administrators and politicians – representing 13 district local governments, national government institutions, universities, private hospitals and civil society organisations.

The workshops are part of the two year research and advocacy project (January 2016 to December 2017) code named: “Tuberculosis: Working to Empower The Nations’ Diagnostic Efforts (TWENDE) that CPAR Uganda Ltd is implementing as part of a University of St. Andrews led Consortium.

TWENDE is a team of academics and researchers, including the Managing Director of CPAR Uganda Ltd, that have joined together in a consortium to contribute towards breaking the cycle of the TB burden in East Africa. The lead TWENDE investigators include: research scientists, clinical researchers, pulmonologists, microbiologists, immunologists, paediatricians, physicians, public health specialists and a cultural anthropologist. The lead TWENDE investigators are from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the United Kingdom (UK); and are affiliated to seven institutions that make up the TWENDE Consortium.

TWENDE is funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), under its EDCT2 programme, funded by the Horizon 2020 European Union funding for Research and Innovation

 

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