UNDP Cautions Against HIV/AIDS Budget Cuts Top story

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In short
Now with declining funding to HIV/AIDS and low public awareness about the virus, United Nations Development Program UNDP Resident Coordinator, Rosa Mulango thinks the President is still positioned to provide leadership in bringing down infection rates and possibly bringing an end to AIDS.

President Yoweri Museveni, a world-renowned fighter against AIDS in the 1980s, has been asked to again provide leadership to fight against the virus.

Museveni broke the silence against HIV/AIDS in the early days of his Government when he  spoke openly against scourge at a time when discussion of the epidemic was a taboo.

Now with declining funding to HIV/AIDS and low public awareness about the virus, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Coordinator, Rosa Mulango thinks the President is still positioned to provide leadership in bringing down infection rates and possibly bringing an end to AIDS.

Mulango while addressing a Press Conference at Protea Hotel in Kampala  urged President Museveni to rekindle his earlier efforts to tell the world that HIV/AIDs is still a public health threat.

"Uganda's HIV success story was driven by the direct leadership of His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who "rolled up his sleeves" and led national HIV campaigns on educating Ugandans about behavior change, the strategies for managing HIV and challenging stigma and discrimination" she said.

Malango's calls comes at the time when government is considering budget cuts across all the government Ministries in the coming financial year. She and other partners under UNAIDS joint programme have advised government against proposed budget cuts.

She noted that cutting health and education sector budgets does not auger well given that the two are important in sectors in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Malango says investments in the well-being of Uganda must be increased to achieve the National Vision and Development objectives.

She says these efforts led to a phenomenal reduction in new HIV infections even in an era when funding was not as substantial and where anti-retroviral therapy was not widely available. Many countries came to Uganda to learn and be inspired by Uganda's experience.
 
The draft National Budget Framework Paper for fiscal year 2017/18 proposes an ambitious 10% budget increase, benefiting mainly infrastructure, such as roads in the Albertine oil region.

Funding for the security sector also increases, but budgets for health, education, social development and justice are cut.

The share of the budget dedicated to social sectors has declined from 37% in 2002/03 to 19% in the proposed Budget for 2017/18, and this in a context of a population growth which Uganda is struggling to sustain.

Mulango is the latest of Uganda's development partners to criticise the government plans to cut budgets for health, education and social development sectors.
 
 "Uganda has been and continues to be the recipient of generous international support in various areas. However, we also need the Government of Uganda to take on increasing responsibility for its HIV programme and to focus on how we can as a joint team support the drive to zero" she said.

The European Union in Uganda recently noted that without government bridging the funding gap arising from the decline in external aid to the social sectors, the earlier results could be compromised.

The European Union noted that in health, earlier progress is either at risk, or almost entirely dependent on donor support, as in the fight against and management of HIV/AIDS. 

Lennarth Hjelmaker, the Global Health Ambassador, Sweden, and co-chair of the Global Review Panel on the UNAIDS Joint Programme said there is a complacency around AIDS which should not be the case as the epidemic is still killing thousands.

He says Uganda has an important story to tell as it has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDs and has registered tremendous success.
 
 According to Professor Vinand Nantulya, the Chairman Uganda Aids Commission, Uganda is committed to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 and all is being done to realise this vision

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.