Uganda: Aids fund yet to be set up two years on

Thursday April 13 2017

Demonstrators call for access to ARVs in Uganda. PHOTO | FILE

Demonstrators call for access to antiretroviral treatment in Uganda. PHOTO | FILE 

By DICTA ASIIMWE

More than two years after Uganda passed a law to establish an HIV/Aids fund, it has yet to be implemented.

Experts say this will affect Uganda’s national response, at a time when international resources for HIV responses are dwindling.

Uganda is among 35 countries that account for 90 per cent of new HIV infections globally.

Data from UNAids shows that with 100,000 new infections, Uganda is third in the world, after Nigeria with 230,000 and South Africa with 340,000. Young people, especially girls aged between 15 and 24 are affected by the high infection rates.

“Every single hour, two young women are getting infected with HIV in Uganda,” notes UNAids.

The statement notes further that the prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls stands at 9.1 per cent, compared with the national prevalence rate of 7.3 per cent.

To reverse the trend, Uganda’s National Aids Spending Assessment Report says that the country needs to invest more in HIV testing, and treatment, as well as educational campaigns. 

To achieve this, money is required, yet a 2016 UNAids report shows that donor spending to address HIV in low and middle-income countries has stagnated. In 2015, there was a decline by more than $1 billion, from $8.62 billion in 2014 to $7.53 billion in 2015. 

Now Amakobe Sande, country director for UNAids. says Uganda needs to implement the HIV/Aids fund.

The fund was introduced in 2010, as a sweetener to garner support for passing the HIV/Aids Bill, which was considered discriminatory by human-rights organisations.

The law, which was passed in 2014, included a line that required the government to have implemented the HIV/Aids fund before February 2015.

The Ministry of Health was required to make regulations for operationalisation of the fund six months after commencement.

But the ministry has has not implemented this directive, even after Prof Vinand Nantulya, the chairman of the Uganda Aids Commission came up with relevant regulations, which required the Ministry of Finance to remit two per cent of the tax revenue from beverages and any other revenues that might suitable for this purpose.
The Ministry of Health remains mum over these regulations with Dr Joshua Musinguzi, head of the HIV/Aids Control Programme, declining to comment.