23 November 2012

Uganda: Even With Limited Funding We Can Still Fight HIV/Aids

Photo: Patrick Jaramogi/New Vision
Florence Nansubuga, 43, and Nakku Florence, 45, have been living with HIV for 17 years.

LAST year's World Aids Day campaign theme was centred on Getting to zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new infections and zero discrimination.

This will not be attainable unless the Government and policy makers live up to the financial pledges they have made. The year 2011 saw unprecedented progress in science, political leadership, and results in HIV/AIDS response.

However, that seems to have been ripped apart due to the financial crises in the health sector.

The global HIV/AIDS report has demonstrated that treatment scale-up is beginning to deliver results both in averting an estimated 2.5 million AIDS-related deaths since 1995 and stopping new infections.

The World AIDS Campaign chairperson, Allyson Leacock said: "Just when we should be increasing our efforts to achieve universal access to treatment, we are tearing apart the progress made and losing the momentum in the HIV response."

Leacock's comments come after the Global Fund announced its intention to scrap the next funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

This decision has postponed any possibility of new funding until 2014. But rather than scaling up treatment programmes to end the scourge, many countries are turning their backs on millions of the world's poorest and most marginalised people.

The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition says funding for HIV had already begun to flatline at the end of the last decade. Last year the Global Fund failed to raise the minimum $13b that was needed to maintain its current programmes.

Of the overall $20b target, it raised $11.5b secured in pledges.

In a challenging year, the Global Fund also faced mixed reactions as it unearthed the misuse of funds by recipients.

This reduced funding indicates a worrying slow-down in international commitment to the global AIDS response. Several donors have since delayed converting their pledges into cash.

The AIDS epidemic, is therefore, far from being over. But with sustained commitment to comprehensive treatment, prevention and care services, it is still possible to create an AIDS-free generation.

Facts about HIV in Uganda:

It has been suggested that the high number of AIDS-related deaths in the 1990s may have been largely responsible for the decline in the number of people living with AIDS in Uganda during this period.

In 2000 the Ugandan health ministry estimated that 800,000 people had died of an AIDS-related illness since the beginning of the epidemic.

Writer is a aational peer trainer at School Net Uganda

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