MASAKA: Following an increase in traffic crashes in the country health activists advocating for the use of preventive measures to reduce the number of lives lost in traffic crashes, and preventable diseases have pushed the safety campaign named Yambabla4me(Wear it for me) to Masaka region rallying journalists, leaders and health workers in the region to embrace the campaign.
Ronnie Mugambwa the coordinator of the Yambala4me campaign while addressing reporters and leaders in Masaka said the campaign aims at mobilizing the public to embrace the wearing of safety belts, crash helmets, face masks, and effective use of condoms among other preventive measures to fight the spread of dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, and road crashes which are claiming lives of many Ugandans.
He says that the impact traffic crashes and diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have on individual households, communities, and the entire country can be reduced by effective use and wearing of simple things like seatbelts, masks, helmets, and condoms asking the public to embrace the wear it for my campaign to reduce on the burden put on communities by the crashes and preventable diseases.
“We are going to further advocate that these materials are available on the market and can be accessed at affordable prices because some of the users we have interacted with claim that crash helmets are expensive, and we ask our colleagues in the public transport industry to put seat belts in their cars and also keep them clean so that passengers can use them without fears of getting their clothes dirty” he added.
Nicolas Abitegeka, a community engagement officer at the aids support organization (TASO) one of the partners of the Yambala4me campaign, says the campaign if well embraced will help much in saving the lives of Ugandans.
“The campaign is in line with the presidential initiative to end the spread of HIV/AIDS by the year 2030, and we just need to support the designers of this campaign to ensure that campaign Yambala4me is a success” he added.
Masaka district health officer Faith Nakiyimba welcomed the campaign saying that though Masaka and the entire country lose a lot of people in crashes there has been a lack of a concerted effort to prevent the preventive measures highlighted by the Yambala4Me campaign asking the public to embrace the campaign.
Nakiyimba says that last year in December –January week last year over 80 people were lost in traffic clashes while over 200 people were injured saying that this is a big number that can’t be claimed in a week saying that the campaign comes in handy to educate people on how to use these protective measures because they are key in fighting crashes which are not only killing people but also expensive in terms of cost implications to the country and individual victims.
“The numbers of lives lost in crashes are quite many and something has to be done to reduce the number of crashes in the country because a big number of crashes are caused by our behaviors on the road and educating people to use crash helmets and seat belts will help much to control crashes and reduce on the dangers of early pregnancies and its complications and HIV/AIDS will be prevented by the use of condoms” she added.
Alfred Kagoro another official from Yambala4ME says that though the campaign was initiated in 2019, they have not been able to push it upcountry, saying that now they are committed to extending it to all regions of the country because of its benefits in saving lives of Ugandans.
He says that the campaign is incorporated in several preventive measures in one pack, adding that creating awareness about this campaign will help to change the mindset of Ugandans about the use of these mainstream tools taking the lead in protecting people’s lives.
Masaka regional police commander, Alfred Bangambaki, warned motorcyclists against the violation of traffic and safety regulations, saying that police are going to intensify operations to crack down on people violating traffic rules and regulations.
“It’s not proper to be penalized for the same thing all the time, my friends the commercial motorcyclists the use of crash helmets benefits you and your families more than the police that always chases you down for not using them, and the same is true for the drivers that always put safety belts on approaching traffic checkpoints this should stop because you risk paying heavy fines for abusing traffic rules now”.
The Masaka district HIV Status report for 2021 indicates that out of 359 new people enrolled in HIV treatment and care, 17 emerged to be new infections among adolescent girls between the ages of 15 to 19 years old, the cases which would be prevented with proper use of condoms.
According to the Annual crime report of 2022 the country registered 20394 cases of road crashes in 2022 compared to 17443 registered in 2021. Out of the 100 crashes 22 people died while 61 percent of all crashes were a result of reckless driving.
There was a 9% increase in the total number of persons that died as a result of road crashes from 4,159 in 2021 to 4,534 in 2022. The increase was in majority of the road user categories except for pedal cyclists and drivers that reduced by 9% and 1% respectively.