Government is working with development partners to combat the scourge
Cecilia Okoth
Journalist @ New vision
Government is working with development partners to combat the scourge

Uganda has adopted a Political Declaration by the United Nations General Assembly, to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Uganda was one of the member states at the United Nations General Assembly high level meeting on ending AIDS in New York, United States of America, that adopted the declaration.

Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who represented President Yoweri Museveni at the meeting said the Government of Uganda supports the declaration that commits to bold strategies, aimed at ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

Rugunda said Government was working with development partners, the private sector, civil society, religious and cultural leaders and communities to combat the scourge.

"The focus of the Uganda National AIDS response has been to implement high impact structural, behavioral and biomedical interventions on a sufficient scale and intensity in order to achieve HIV epidemic control," he said.

According to the Premier, Government was striving towards zero new infections, zero HIV related mortality and morbidity and zero discrimination by strengthening the adolescent HIV/AIDS programmes, adopting the test and treat policy as well as ensuring sustained financing for the HIV/AIDS response through legislation that established the AIDS Trust fund.

"We also stand by the common African position to this United Nations General Assembly high level meeting that advocates for 95:95:95 targets by 2030," he said.

In the recent budget reading by Matia Kasaija, the designated Minister of Finance, Government pledged to continue prioritizing the implementation of the National Prevention Strategy of HIV/AIDS and also expand Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) coverage to 80%, with an emphasis on testing and treatment of the 'most-at- risk' population, and elimination of Mother to Child Transmission.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicated that at the end of 2015, the number of new HIV infections had declined from 162,000 in 2011 to 83,265 while the prevalence among HIV exposed infants reduced from 19% in 2007 to 3% by the end of 2015.

In addition, the number of AIDS related deaths have declined from 63,000 in 2011 to 28,000 by December 2015.

Some of the challenges that must be overcome to fast-track HIV/AIDS response include the fact that only 55%of Ugandans have ever tested for HIV while 43% of those eligible for treatment are not receiving it.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft said the global community was united in its resolution to end the AIDS epidemic within the framework of the SDGs.

"We have to be accountable for the commitments we make leaving no one behind," Lykketoft said, adding that eradicating AIDS will be one of the greatest achievements of this generation.

The General Assembly was also addressed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon who said everyone affected must have access to comprehensive HIV services without discrimination.

The United Nations General Assembly meeting on ending AIDS was convened by the President of the UN General Assembly and co-facilitated by Switzerland and Zambia.

Rugunda said the Uganda population HIV impact assessment survey, which is set to commence in July 2016, will provide Government with better and current estimates of the number of people infected with HIV and thus better estimate of the first 90 target.