USAID intervention lowers notorious vice among fisherfolk in Busia

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Busia CEC for health Dr Maurice Siminyu during the CB-HIPP meeting in Sio Port flanked by USAID Head of Health for the Africa Bureau, Lisa Baldwin (2nd left)
Busia CEC for health Dr Maurice Siminyu during the CB-HIPP meeting in Sio Port flanked by USAID Head of Health for the Africa Bureau, Lisa Baldwin (2nd left)

United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) intervention has drastically reduced ‘Fish for Sex’ trade along the shores of Lake Victoria in Busia County, the Agency Head of Health for the Africa Bureau, Lisa Baldwin was told on Wednesday.

Baldwin flew from Washington DC to meet health officials from Busia County and Tororo, Busia and Malaba districts of Uganda at Sio Port to assess the impact of USAID’s funding of the Cross Border Health Integrated Partnership Project through Family Health International 360.

Busia County Executive Committee Member for Health and Sanitation Dr Maurice Siminyu led the Kenyan delegation while Uganda delegation was led by Dr David Okumu. Also present was the Trans-Community Organization CEO Canon Zakayo Masake whose NGO oversees the coordination of the project in partnership with Family Health International 360.

Peer educators narrated how USAID has reduced the culture of women using sex as a currency to obtain fish from their male fish folks. Baldwin was happy with this development of empowering women so as to shun this practice.

They were also happy that the spread of HIV/AIDS has drastically reduced among the fish folks through awareness creation and the reduction in Anti-retroviral drugs defaulters.

Masake said the visit was to establish the scope of the project they are funding, adding that the target groups include vulnerable people, MSM,  Female sex workers, fisherfolk and long distance track drivers.

However, Canon Masake said the fisherfolk face many challenges especially those who test positive and fail to continue taking anti-retroviral drugs.

Dr Siminyu said 30 percent of outpatients who attend outpatient services at Busia County Referral Hospital and other border health facilities are from Uganda, thus straining resources.

Dr Okumu said cross-border intervention was needed to control the spread of HIV/AIDS by cross-border mobile population, long distance truck drivers, female sex workers and people in same-sex relationships.