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Uganda’s Global Fund coordinating board gets first Transman member

Uganda’s Global Fund coordinating board gets first Transman member

Apako Williams was elected to serve on the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism 


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By Joto La Jiwe

Apako Williams (Photo courtesy of Kuchu Times)
Apako Williams (Photo courtesy of Kuchu Times)

Celebrations are in order for the Uganda LGBTQI+ community, following the election of Apako Williams as a board member of the Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund, a worldwide partnership to fight HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Apako, a trans man, will serve as the representative of Key Populations on the board. “Key Populations” refer to marginalized communities disproportionately affected by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, including transgender individuals, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.

Apako is the Executive Director of Tranz Network Uganda, an indigenous not-for-profit umbrella organization for transgender and gender diverse persons’ organizations in Uganda established in 2014.

The Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism (UCCM) was created by the Global Fund to govern the use of Global Fund resources in Uganda, reflecting the principles of national ownership and participatory decision-making. The UCCM is responsible for coordinating submission of fresh proposals, process requests for continued funding, selecting principal recipients, as well as oversight on all Global Fund.

The UCCM comprises of members from the government, civil society organizations, academia, the private sector, UN agencies and other bilateral agencies, and representatives of key populations.

People who have worked closely with Apako believe that he is up to the task.

Blogger Daniels Mukwano says Apako Williams brings a fresh perspective to a position of immense importance in advocating for the rights and well-being of transgender community in Uganda.

“Apako Williams’ election… is a remarkable achievement that marks an important milestone in Ugandan society. By breaking barriers and advocating for the rights and healthcare needs of marginalized communities, Williams is championing necessary change, fostering understanding, and paving the way for a more inclusive future,” Mukwano says. “His unwavering dedication to promoting the rights of marginalized communities exemplifies the power of resilience, determination, and community advocacy. Through his work, Williams not only uplifts those facing similar challenges but also creates spaces for meaningful dialogue and understanding within Ugandan society.”

Apako Williams’ journey leading up to this prestigious position has been fraught with challenges and resilience. As a member of the transgender community in Uganda, he has experienced firsthand discrimination, stigma, and social isolation that is often directed to members of minority groups. However, through determination and unwavering commitment, Williams has persevered, standing tall as a beacon of hope for others who face similar struggles.

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Williams’ election as the representative of Key Populations at the Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism couldn’t have come at a more critical time.

With the escalation of human rights abuses directed at suspected and known LGBTQI+ persons under the pretext of implementing the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) 2023, his presence on the UCCM is vital because it puts him in position to advocate and ensure that the needs and rights of the people he represents are adequately addressed within the public health framework of Uganda.

His appointment signifies a meaningful step towards a more inclusive approach in healthcare planning, programming, and policy-making.

But with AHA in place, it also means that he has to work harder than his predecessors and fellow board members.

Joto La Jiwe, the author of this article, is a Ugandan correspondent for the African Human Rights Media Network. He writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

 

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