The Islamic Medical Association of Uganda (IMAU) believes that
if AIDS education efforts are to reach our Muslim communities, they must involve
our religious leaders. We have worked with this understanding since 1992 to
train and supervise over 8,000 religious leaders and their teams of volunteers.
These spiritually motivated community members have made repeated home visits to
over 100,000 families in 11 districts across Uganda, offering accurate
information on HIV/AIDS and motivation for behaviour change.
After only two years, baseline and follow-up surveys revealed
that community members in IMAU project areas showed significant increases in
correct knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention, as well as increased
knowledge of risk associated with the Muslim practices of ablution of the dead
and (when unsterile instruments are used) circumcision. The surveys also show a
significant reduction in self-reported sexual partners and an increase in
self-reported condom use.
The key to our success has been our ability to mobilize Muslim
leaders - Imams, County Sheikhs District Kadhis, and His Eminence the Mufti, who
in 1989 showed support for our mission by declaring a Jihad on AIDS.
Dr Magid Kagimu Salongo (centre)
joins Family AIDS Workers in Kamuli District.
Our Association of over 300 Islamic medical practitioners is
well respected and Muslim leaders take our advice to heart. We are conversant in
the teachings of Islam and are able to quote verses from the Quran to make
scientific explanations of HIV relevant to our people. Although IMAU does not
offer material support or clinical services to families suffering with AIDS, we
help communities network with other organizations that do offer these services.
Our continued progress is critical as it is now estimated that
one in every ten Ugandan adults is HIV positive.
IMAUs AIDS education programmes focus on Ugandas
Muslim communities but also extend to people of other religious faiths. As one
Imam said: We all suffer the same.
This booklet has been produced for readers in Uganda and Muslim
communities in other parts of the world who may be interested in learning more
about IMAUs community-based health efforts.
Alhaj Dr Magid Kagimu Salongo
Medical Association of