HIV/AIDS prevalence rate remains high in EAC armed forces

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- The security of citizens of the East African Community (EAC) will best be guaranteed by securing the health of members of the armed forces of the EAC partner states, according to Rwanda's Defence Minister, General Marcel Gatsinzi.
General Gatsinzi made the remark at the opening in Kigali, Rwanda, of a three- day workshop on mainstreaming HIV/AIDS prevention, control, treatment, care and support in the national armed forces as well as the peace and security sectors of the EAC partner states.
According to the EAC secretariat, the prevalence rate and incidence of HIV and AIDS in the regional armed forces -- military, police and paramilitary forces, including their families -- remains high in spite of measures put in place to address the epidemic.
"It is imperative to recognise strongly that HIV/AIDS in the regional armed forces impacts negatively on national security and should be a regional priority," the secretariat said in a brief.
, adding that the situation was aggravated by the nature of armed forces work, âœwhich often involves travelling long distances away from home on high mobility missions.
"This renders the armed forces particularly vulnerable yet they are part of the wider society in which they live and with which they interact.
" Noting that the situation calls for a radical scaling up of broad innovative responses at regional level, the EAC said the focus should be on prevention of HIV/AIDS, and care and mitigation of its impact in order to ensure sustainable human development within partner states.
The workshop seeks to contribute to the reduction in prevalence of HIV /AIDS in the EAC armed forces by strengthening their prevention capacity and initiatives.
Participants in the workshop include chiefs of medical services or their representatives in the armed forces, national HIV/AIDS programme officers, experts in public health, EAC defence liaison officers and representatives of collaborating international development partners.
The EAC developmental strategy recognises HIV/AIDS as a serious threat to sustainable development in the region and the integration agenda of its partner states - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.

23 march 2010 13:13:00

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