Internally displaced people in northern Uganda face a difficult choice – whether to return to their ancestral villages or stay in camps hoping for better access to healthcare, as antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are in short supply.
“Going back to the village to me means committing suicide because the village health centres do not provide us ARVs – they are constantly out of drugs,” said Bosco Opiro of Pabbo, a former IDP camp in Amuru District.
Opiro said his village of Lalem, also in Amuru, had no health centre; he and other HIV-positive people in the camp have chosen to remain in Pabbo and continue to collect their ARVs from the health centre in town rather than go back to Lalem.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported a lack of basic services, including healthcare, in areas of return.
Patrick Odong, the district health officer for Amuru District, told IRIN/PlusNews one of the major problems with HIV management both in the camps and in towns was the irregular supply of drugs by the National Medical Stores.
However, Zainab Akol, AIDS programme manager in the Ministry of Health, said the fault often lay with the districts.
“The main problem is that these people wait until everything is finished in their stores and then they place their order [with the National Medical Stores],” she said. “Right now we have stocks at the medical stores so if they don’t order, it causes supply problems for the patients.”