By John Unzima
Adjumani- The South Sudanese refugees living with HIV/Aids and those on special needs care are facing a dilemma of taking drugs on empty stomach due to hunger.
The dire situation has drawn the Refugee leadership in various settlements to ask for supplementary feeding program to improve on the nutrition of Person with special needs (PSN).
This follows food rationing in August 2016 by World food program affecting over 200,000 refugees across Adjumani, among them persons living with HIV/Aids.
One of the refugees who declined to be named for fear of stigmatization, said: “It is a dilemma to take ARV drugs on empty stomach. The drugs are too strong and this threatens our lives as people living with HIV/Aids. We request the food agencies to consider us and the elderly people who need food to supply us.”
Tombe Musa Refugee welfare committee chairperson for Mireyi settlement said this has forced some persons living with HIV/Aids to abandoned treatment.
“This is dangerous to our community because these people have become helpless and desperate,” Tombe said.
Tombe said their efforts to produce local food by planting vegetables in their backyard is being deterred by the prolonged dry spell, that has left the PSN including Person living with HIV between the jaws of starvation.
“Life is becoming hard they are facing it rough, we don’t even have land for cultivation,” Tombe added.
Some of the South Sudanese refugees receiving food from a man on a pick up truck. Photos by Unzima John
Mary Kiden a PSN in Maaji settlement said sometimes she get ration once in two months saying she has in many occasions take her drugs when hungry.
The hunger situation among the South Sudanese refugees comes at a time when Uganda prepares to host international humanitarian solidarity meeting from 20-22 June 2017 Refugees.
Why more hunger
The situation is further worsened by the missing names on food log which has become rampant across the Refugee settlement in the district. At least 20 households miss food monthly due to missing names on the food log.
In Pagrinya settlement the situation is no better where those whose names are missing on food log from their block of residency are referred to another block where they also miss out.
It is even more worst with those who have lost their attestations and feeding cards as they go on for months without getting food ration.
Some South Sudanese refugee children line up for food at Rhino Camp settlement. Photo by Aluma Aribo
The Nursing officer at Adjumani hospital art clinic, Iya Joyce, said shortage of food is one of top factors determining adherence to treatment among persons living with HIV. “We have always advised that patients on ARV should have adequate nutrition, but this is the opposite here and we fear this will make their conditions deteriorate,” she said.
Dr William Anzo Kristo of Medical Center said: “Malnutrition result to immune suppression, making the drug more toxic to body.”
Statistics from Medical Team International indicates that in 2016, about 12 percent of children under five years who crossed to Uganda from South Sudan are malnourished.
World health organization recommends that per capita energy requirement should rage between 1,900 -2,500 kilocalories in emergency situations.
World food Program in 2016 said it spends $7 million to provide food ration for Refugees each month less than the $20 million required to provide 100% food ration.
The persons living with HIV in the settlements also have to trek for kilometers to access facilities providing Anti-retroviral therapy.
This story is published with support from Acme grant