3 June 2008

Uganda: Museveni Questions Donor Aid Conditions

Kampala — PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has criticised donors for setting stringent regulations to guide recipient countries during the procurement of HIV/AIDS drugs. He gave an example of Uganda which has constructed an ARV manufacturing factory, which will be making ARVs, malaria drugs and other anti-biotic drugs.

"We decided to build an ARV manufacturing plant here. But there is a bureaucratic issue about using this money to buy drugs in our factories. We have to buy drugs from outside. But I do not like this," Museveni said.

He said donors emphasise capacity building and the purchase of locally manufactured ARV drugs would be in line with this.

"I am not used to using foreign drugs. Up to the age of 10 years, I never used drugs from outside my village. My mother knew which local herbs to use to treat me," he remarked.

"Our partners are saying 'we give you money but you must buy foreign.' We have diverted our money to buy drugs. But provided that the drugs are effective, I do not see why the procurement regulations should not be flexible."

He said there was need to discuss with the donors how to support the ARV factory.

"It could be in partnership with affected countries. But we must be able to treat ourselves and it creates employment."

Museveni was opening the second HIV/AIDS implementers' meeting at the Imperial Royale Hotel Kmapala yesterday.

The President also questioned the emphasis of male circumcision as a means of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"When circumcised people behave recklessly, are they immune to HIV and AIDS? To me, behaviour change is the way to go."

He said Uganda had tribes which practice circumcision as a tradition yet they remain with a high HIV prevalence rate.

"If circumcision would render the body armoured, then why would we have incidents of AIDS in these tribes? I want more guidance on that. What is the point to behave recklessly as long as you are circumcised?"

The Global Fund recently signed a memorandum of understanding committing $36.3m to Uganda for 2008/9 under Phase II of Round Three.

Museveni said Uganda was in the process of signing Round Seven of the global funds worth $254m for HIV/AIDS and $114m for malaria in the next five years.

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