An estimated 80 000 people have taken part in the Kabaka Birthday Run, an annual event that forms part of the celebrations to mark the birthday of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda.
For the last three years, the run’s theme has been “Men for Good Health and Ending AIDS by 2030.”
The run is part of the Kabaka’s five-year campaign to increase the uptake of HIV testing and treatment services, with a particular focus on men and boys. It has yielded remarkable results in the Buganda region, with new HIV infections down more than in any other region of Uganda over the last few years.
The campaign is called “Men are Stars – Abaami Munyeenye” and connects men and boys aged 15—49 years old to HIV testing, treatment and care services, especially in the areas most affected by the pandemic. Through events such as the Kabaka Birthday Run, the Masaza football cup, the royal boat regatta, traditional campfire centres, school camps, radio and television shows, men and boys learn about the importance of going for regular health check-ups, including for HIV testing.
UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, who attended the run in Mengo paid tribute to the Kabaka’s contribution to reducing the impact of HIV in Buganda.
“Your Majesty, under your leadership and through your messages to men and boys, Buganda has made remarkable progress against the AIDS pandemic in the last five years,” said Ms Byanyima, “UNAIDS looks forward to strengthening our partnership to reach other vulnerable groups such as young women and adolescent girls and to get Africa on track to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”
In recognition of his significant contribution to the AIDS response, Ms Byanyima confirmed the Kabaka in his role as UNAIDS Africa Goodwill Ambassador.