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Uganda: Girl Walks 12km for ARVs


17-year-old Martha (not real name) has been a common sight on the Nabirumba-Kamuli road on her way to pick antiretro-viral (ARV) drugs from Kamuli Hospital.

Her monthly trek began in December last year after her father, a resident of Nabwigulu sub-county, kicked her out of his home, saying he would not waste his resources on an HIV/ AIDS patient.

Left with no choice, Martha left to live with grandfather, 9km farther away from the nearest health facility.

This meant that despite her precarious health, she had to walk 12km to pick ARVs.

Martha's plight came to light last Friday at Nabirumba Health Centre III, where Plan, an NGO, organised a function to mark the World Tuberculosis Day.

"We have, in our midst, an AIDS patient, whose parents have dumped. She walks 12km to and from hospital to collect her ARVs," the Kamuli district information officer, Joseph Ngobi, said.

Ngobi said Martha's life was in danger because the grandfather, Nasani Musengawe, was too poor to provide a balanced diet or food supplements for the girl, let alone for himself.

"She is sickly because of poor feeding. A person on ARVs needs to eat foods that are rich in proteins and carbohydrates," Ngobi added.

The sight of the frail girl evoked pity as she slowly sat up and struggled to speak.

"I have lost hope. Much as I get the drugs, I should have a balanced diet, which my grandfather cannot afford," Martha said.

She said she loves matooke, rice, meat, chicken and milk but nobody can offer her such food.

Martha knew her HIV status in 2002 when she was only eight years old.At the time, she had been looking after her bedridden HIV-positive aunt.

She dropped out of school in Primary Four when her health deteriorated.

Her mother died of natural causes four years ago and her father, who has not remarried, lives with Martha's only brother.

Nabirumba LC1 chairman James Bakulube said Martha could have contracted HIV 10 years ago as she took care of her aunt.

Four years later, he added, she developed health complications and was tested and found to be HIV-positive.

After the results, he says, her father rejected her.

"He was advised to take care of the child or face arrest.

He took heed last year, but for the last five months, the child has had to walk from her grandfather's home to pick her ARVs," Ngobi said.

Kamuli community officer Leo Merewooma appealed to NGO's and civil society organisations to help Martha.

The acting LC5 chairman, Samuel Bamwole, appealed for collective responsibility and parental care towards the girl.

Our readers have contacted us about this story seeking to support the girl.

Please be careful so your support can reach the intended person. If in doubt, please write your query to and copy to or call 0414337000/0312337000 and ask for Vision Group legal department


All articles are republished on AEGIS by permission. Material may not be redistributed, posted to any other location, published or used for broadcast without written authorization from Managing Director/Editor-in-chief, The New Vision, P.O. Box 9815, Kampala - Uganda, Tel/fax: 256-41-235221, E-mail: 

Information in this article was accurate in April 10, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.