Members of Parliament;
The Heads of Diplomatic Missions;
The Chairman of the Board of National Population Council (NPC);
District, Religious and Cultural Leaders of Busia and neighouring Districts;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Abe Busia Muliyo Mutye Mwesi?
First, I would like to thank the people of Busia and the District leaders for hosting this year’s World Population Day.
I would also like to thank you all for maintaining peace, unity and tranquility and also for your strong support to the NRM Government. Mwebale muno
On the occasion of the World Population Day 2017, I would like to address the nation and all Ugandans on the following issues
When our Government came to power, Uganda’s population was relatively small. Why was it small? Because our people were dying in large numbers. For example in 1991, infant mortality rate (children dying before their first birthday) was 122 per 1,000 births. As we speak today, infant mortality has been considerably reduced by threefold and stands at 43 per 1,000. Although no child should die, nonetheless this is good progress.
How did we achieve this?
We achieved this by prioritizing prevention in the health sector, e.g immunization and the use of bed-nets for prevention of Malaria. As a result of these low cost-high impact programmes, we stopped our children from dying unnecessarily from preventable diseases like Polio, Measles, Tuberculosis (TB), Whooping Cough, etc.
Regarding the HIV / AIDS epidemic, you will recall that the prevalence of the epidemic had risen up to 30% in some parts of the country. I decided that we, as Government, should make an alarm (Enduulu). The HIV/AIDS prevalence sharply dropped to 6%. We used ABC strategy (of Abstinence, Be faithful to your Partner and use of Condoms). Although recently there has been complacency, our Government is re-kindling our efforts. We are going to put more people on ARVs so that they don’t infect others. We are committed to an AIDS-free Uganda by the year 2030 through the Presidential Fast-tracking Initiative which I launched in Kampala last month.
Government has also invested heavily in the construction of health centres. By 1986, the health sector was in a state of near collapse with dilapidated and very poorly equipped health facilities.
Our Government has increased health facilities to a total of 1,708 and this has brought health services nearer to the people. This, combined with an increase in numbers of health workers, has contributed to the reduction in maternal mortality (deaths of mothers during pregnancy or child birth) from 435 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010/11 to 368 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015/16.
As a result of these interventions, Ugandans are now healthier and live longer than ever before. The last Census (2014 Census) indicated improvement of life expectancy. That Census indicated that life expectancy in Uganda increased from 43 years in 1991 to 63 years in 2014.
A combination of reduced mortality and increased life expectancy has led to a rapid increase in our population. Uganda’s population has grown from 16.7 million people in 1990 to 34.6 million in 2014 and is expected to reach 40 million by next year. This is Uganda’s most important asset. Therefore, our population has grown because of good policies.
As I have said before, it is important that I remind Ugandans on a day like this that the riches of any nation are not in the soil or in the ground, but in its people. In fact if you look closely into history, you will find that a number of rich countries don’t have natural resources, but they depend on their own people (human capital) especially if they are educated, skilled, innovative and have entrepreneurial skills. A good example is Japan, but there are also others like South Korea and Singapore.
With good programmes like quality education, vocational and skills training, good health care and job creation, this growing population and the youth are the engine of economic growth for Uganda.
Uganda will harness the Demographic Dividend. To solve the job issue of Uganda’s youth, our Government will continue to focus in four sectors, namely:
Regarding the issues in Busia, let me start with the challenge of 66% of households being in subsistence economy (the national average being 68.9%). This means that in Busia, for every 100 people, 66 are in subsistence farming. Whereas we brought down poverty in Uganda from 56% in 1991 to 19.7% currently, depending on subsistence undermines our efforts. Our next step is to bring as many people as possible out of subsistence economy through organized commercial farming, irrigation, value addition, etc.
Fellow Ugandans, there is also this problem of high teenage pregnancy which stands at 25% at national level and 27% in Busia district. This means that one (1) out of every four (4) of teenage girls has had a baby before they reach 19 years old. This is not acceptable because it leads to high maternal mortality, cancer and fistula (huge tears of the birth canal because the body is not ready for childbirth). Is this high teenage pregnancy due to bad parenting, poverty or moral degeneration? I ask all Ugandans to join me in ending this shameful creeping problem in our country.
Another important challenge I would like to talk about today is the issue of household hygiene. For us in NRM, prevention is the priority. We know that in Uganda, only 27% of the people wash their hands with water and soap after visiting the toilet. This has serious public health implications for the control of infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other diarrheal diseases. Seventy five per cent (75%) of disease burden in Uganda is preventable and personal hygiene is key in this effort. Surely, we don’t need a budget from the Ministry of Finance to sort out this!
Lastly, I wish to inform you that the NRM Government will continue to give priority to issues of our youth by empowering them so that they improve their welfare as well as contributing positively towards Uganda’s development.
I wish all Ugandans a happy World Population Day. A big thank you to the people of Busia.
Abe Busia Mwesi. Mwebalemuno ohwicha nohutekeressa.