The Speaker of the Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said that legislators will take keen interest in scrutinising how the Global Fund money is spent in the procurement of ARVs and other items on the list.
While meeting the new UNAIDS Country Director Dr Karusa Kiragu, the Speaker said there were concerns about the poor absorption of the Geneva-based Global Fund money yet there were still major issues to be addressed in regard to the AIDS pandemic in the country.
The Speaker also asked Dr Kiragu to avail her with information regarding to the utilisation of the funds for the HIV/AIDS initiatives so that she can mobilise MPs to efficiently follow up especially at committee level.
“Members of Parliament are very concerned about issues regarding AIDS and would definitely be interested in following up this matter,” Kadaga said. On her part, Dr Kiragu said that there was a growing trend of some money from the Global Fund not being utilised and instead returned at the end of the accounting period.
“There is a glaring issue of absorption of resources on the ground yet we see more AIDS patients lacking access to anti-retroviral medicine,” Dr Kiragu said.
On her part Dr. Kiragu requested Kadaga to urge parliamentarians to re-echo and support President Museveni’s message and support to the Presidential Fast-Track Initiative on Ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat in Uganda.
The initiative which was launched last June in Kampala outlines key areas in revitalising HIV prevention and closing the tap of new infections specifically among girls, young women and men; consolidating progress on elimination of mother to child transmission; accelerating implementation of ‘test and treat’ which is expected to rapidly scale-up coverage of HIV treatment services in the country and ensuring domestic financing sustainability for the HIV response and finally strengthening institutional effectiveness for a multi-sectoral response.
“We ask you to push the MPs to talk about preventive measures of AIDS and have the message out to their constituents,” Dr. Kiragu, a public health specialist and epidemiologist, said.
In response Speaker Kadaga said that Parliament has a Committee on HIV and AIDS, which support the presidential initiative.
“We have confirmed that the AIDS Fund is functional and funding should be availed to the Ministry of Health. I will also ask all the parliamentary committees to talk about all measures against AIDS as they go out to conduct field visits and also during the Speaker’s outreach,” Kadaga said.
While addressing the media early this month, Dr Kiragu noted that while Uganda registered a 56% decline in AIDS related deaths between 2010 and 2016, the major concern is high deaths among the men. Of 23,000 adult’s deaths recorded in 2016, 15,300 were males and 7,700 were females.
Recent HIV/AIDS surveys point out that many fear testing for the disease which makes them miss medicines.
During the launch of Presidential Fast-Track Initiative on Ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat in Uganda, Museveni urged the men to voluntarily go for counselling and testing in order to access treatment if diagnosed with HIV.