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Uganda needs to re-discover its HIV prevention success story of the 1990s

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th October 2011 06:43 PM

WE seem to have been distracted by the CHOGM graft legal drama this past couple of days and missed out on four seemingly unconnected stories.

WE seem to have been distracted by the CHOGM graft legal drama this past couple of days and missed out on four seemingly unconnected stories.

By Henry Zakumumpa

WE seem to have been distracted by the CHOGM graft legal drama this past couple of days and missed out on four seemingly unconnected stories.

Dr Raymond Byaruhanga, head of Uganda AID Information Centre (AIC), announced that Uganda’s HIV annual infection rates are projected to rise to 150,000 new cases this year compared to 130,000 last year and 100,000 in years before.

This past Friday, it was reported that “Britain is cutting back bilateral aid for HIV and Aids projects in developing countries by almost a third over the next four years, according to data from the Department for International Development. Overall spending by DfiD on HIV/Aids between now and 2015 will decrease by 32% by 2015’’ reports the UK’s The Guardian.

The US-based Kaiser Family foundation, in a joint report with UNAIDS, this past week announced that international funding for HIV/AIDS declined by 10% in 2010 continuing a trend that started in 2009.

Another report last week revealed that the Global Fund has suspended another round of funding for combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and Tuberculosis in poor countries (Round 11) which had been scheduled for this year but has now been deferred  to March 2012 owing to insufficient funding from the ( mainly) western donors.

These stories although underreported in the local press could cost millions of lives globally, Ugandans included.

According to UNDP, the United States through its PEPFAR programme, funds about 85% of HIV/AIDS treatment costs in Uganda.

The United States and Europe who are currently in the throes of an enduring global financial crisis, with the IMF predicting even harder times ahead, will not be there to foot AIDS treatment in Africa for much longer.

Besides, the Obama administration is politically keen on switching from AIDS treatment funding in Africa (a Bush administration initiative) to other global health concerns such as maternal and child health. 

The trouble for us in Uganda is that we are falling behind in global efforts to rein in new HIV infection rates an endeavor we were renowned for in the 1990s. 

What is troubling is that many more people  in Uganda are going to need AIDS treatment because of  the spike in new  HIV infections, driven primarily by married couples, but also because people with HIV/AIDS are now living longer, at a time when western donor countries are actually cutting AIDS funding.

Many AIDS treatment centres in Uganda are already turning away new patients due to donor funding caps, with some centres tragically sharing drugs amongst their patients. What is going to happen when thousands of Ugandans newly require AIDS treatment and they are turned away at treatment centres?

Sadly, Uganda’s losing HI

Uganda needs to re-discover its HIV prevention success story of the 1990s

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