By Our Reporter
Civil society organizations have made a call to government to start domestically mobilizing resources for HIV response in Uganda. The call was made during a breakfast meeting held at Hotel Africana on Thursday that was attended by different stakeholders including civil society members, government officials as well as community representatives for people living with HIV among others.
Speaking during the event, Prof. Vinand Nantulya, a medical researcher and former chairman Uganda AIDS Commission revealed that HIV/AIDS funding in Uganda is heavily dependent on the contributions from foreign donors, with the government only making a paltry contribution.
“HIV/AIDS funding has been depending very much on the contributions made by our development partners. The contribution from them accounts for nearly 90% of the money that we need to run the AIDS control program, especially the treatment and testing program.” Said Prof. Vinand Nantulya, former Uganda AIDS Commission chairman.
HIV/AIDS remains a major public health and socio-economic challenge with current estimates showing that 1,460,000 people were living with HIV in 2019; with a prevalence at 6.8% for women and 4.2% for men; 2.8% among young women and 1.1% among young men. In the same period, 51,007 people were newly infected with HIV.
Currently, 1.2 million (86%) of people leaving with HIV/AIDS are on ART treatment, up from 871,000 (67%) in 2017. Uganda requires US$ 4.1 billion annually to have all people diagnosed HIV infection sustained on ART treatment.
“The landscape for international development aid is changing. These donors have got other priorities. We used to have about 11 donors supporting the program, but we are now left with five. As we move forward, we might end up with just two or three. We therefore need to have a mechanism for mobilizing additional resources to accompany the government allocations and donor allocations if we are going to fight HIV/AIDS effectively.” Nantulya added.
Although the government is making effort to address the ever increasing funding gap for HIV/AIDS response, it remains insufficient.
In July 2014, government passed into law the HIV and AIDS prevention and Control Act, which provides for the establishment of the National AIDS Trust Fund as an innovative financing mechanism. However, the operationalization of the AIDS Trust Fund has not taken off, more than five years later.
According to Vinand Nantulya, there are several other opportunities to raise funding for HIV response such as a One Dollar Initiative, which is private sector driven to mobilize money from individuals and corporations for national response, Multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS mainstreaming in MDAs as well fund allocation from infrastructural projects among others.
“We could then put all that money into one management unit to increase efficiency, reduce wastage and create accountability. It would also help in targeting the use of the money in a better way.” Nantulya concluded.
The breakfast meeting was organized by Uganda Network of young people living with HIV & AIDS (UNYPA) to create awareness on the existing funding gaps for HIV and TB in Uganda and brainstorm ideas on how to increase resource allocation to health and more specifically for HIV in Uganda.