More than 20 health workers and manufacturers have launched a campaign to raise Shs10b for HIV/AIDS treatment and national wide sensitization programmes.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign dubbed One Dollar HIV&AIDS Initiative (ODI), Mr Vinand Nantulya, former Uganda AIDS Commission chairman, doubling as ODI chairperson, said the initiative that is private sector-led aims at rising resources to support HIV/AIDS national response.
Mr Nantulya said ODI is driven by recognition of the socio-economic impacts of HIV and AIDS on national development whereby money that could have been used to invest in enterprises is spent on treatment.
"HIV/AIDS does not only affect consumption and profitability of business but also destabilises the overall business environment in the country. It is time that Ugandans took part in raising their own funds to fight against HIV/AIDS since donor funds have reduced," Mr Nantulya said.
Mr Nantulya said one of the initiatives to kick-start raising funds for ODI will be an HIV/AIDS walk and run scheduled for December 9, 2018 under the slogan 'Until It's Over' in which (UIO) targets 10000 people. It will be flagged off by Mr Patrick Bitature, chairperson Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and Ms Maggie Kigozi, the former Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) executive director.
Estimates of adults and children of all ages living with HIV in Uganda is at approximately 1,324,685 of which 1,141,489 about 86 percent are on life-long ART treatment. The rate of new HIV infections stands at 962 people per week which translates to 137 being infected on daily basis.
Uganda is estimated to be spending $276m annually on treating HIV/AIDS patients including costs of drugs, equipment used for diagnosis and follow ups to assess the treatment success.
Mr George Tamale, ODI coordinator, said Shs10b if raised annually, would reverse 50,000 annual HIV infections and resources currently being spent on treatment would be shifted to development. He said there was complacence in the public a reason why the fight against the scourge seems stagnated.
"We have stagnated with the fight against HIV for 38 years and we need to reverse our strategies as citizens by raising our own funds and being involved in measures to fight this epidemic. We can only achieve this if we raise our own money so that when donors pull out we are not caught unaware," Mr Tamale said.
In early 1980s, annual HIV infection stood at 230,000 but was reduced to 80,000 after President Museveni launched several interventions against the disease. However, the figures shot up in 2000s due to complacence and Uganda AIDS Commissions had to review efforts which have since reverted the numbers to 50,000.