A total of 17 health facilities in Uganda including Regional Referral Hospitals (RRH), General Hospitals (GH) and Health Centre IVs have been recognized for their outstanding performance in the HIV/AIDS care and TB services.
The awards focused on areas of HIV care and treatment, monitoring and evaluation, grants management, elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and voluntary medical male circumcision.
The US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) decorated the health facilities for championing the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.
This was during the Transition and Learning ceremony for USAID’s Strengthening Uganda’s Systems for Treating AIDS Nationally (SUSTAIN) project recently at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala.
The US deputy chief of mission Colette Marcellin said the health facilities have played a vital role in improving access to quality HIV/AIDS and TB services.
Lira RRH scooped the most outstanding award for quality of HIV care and treatment services and improvement in viral load access. It was also recognized for having the highest number HIV positive client totaling 26590 with 16586 started on ART.
It is followed by Fortportal RRH (voluntary medical male circumcision), Mubende RRH (Elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS), St Kizito Matany hospital in Napak district (grants management) and Kawolo GH (Monitoring and evaluation) awards.
Others include Abim GH, Arua RRH, Gulu RRH, Hoima RRH, Jinja RRH, Kaabong GH, Kabale RRH, Kotido HCIV, Mbale RRH, Moroto RRH, Soroti RRH and Tokora HCIV in Nakapiripirit district.
“Over past seven years, SUSTAIN has worked with Uganda’s referral hospitals to provide HIV testing and counselling services to more than two million people, identified more than 94,000 people as HIV infected, and started more 64,000 patients on antiretroviral treatment,” Marcellin said.
She also called for more effort to tackle the challenges posed by Uganda’s high burden of tuberculosis.
“Uganda has one of the highest TB and HIV co-infection rates in the world, and the number of new TB cases in Uganda exceeds the number of new HIV cases each year. Right now, only half those with TB have been identified and started treatment,” she said.
She appealed that government put engagement on TB to the next level and apply new, innovative approaches to tackle the spread of TB in Uganda.
USAID has been supporting all the 17 health facilities since 2010 to improve access to quality HIV/AIDS and TB services for individuals affected by HIV. In 2014 SUSTAIN project was ranked as one of USAIDs’ top 10 health systems strengthening projects in the world.
Gladys Tugume, SUSTAIN project chief of party said the project worked closely with government and communities to design and implement bold and creative interventions and solutions to improve people’s lives.
“Efforts to further strengthen the country’s health systems are critical to keeping up with rising demands of population growth,” she said.
Health state minister in charge of general duties Sarah Opendi said government is in process to set up the Aids Trust Fund that will finance HIV/AIDS patients in case donors pullout.
“The AIDS Trust Fund (ATF) will soon be operational. The law was passed by Parliament and assented to by the President in July in 2017. The regulations were endorsed by cabinet and forwarded to Parliament for approval. The HIV committee of parliament has been scrutinizing them and reported that they lay them on the floor of parliament for approval during the next session of parliament after recess. We are hopeful that soon after that, the ATF should be operational,” she said.