The Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) has appealed to the government to increase its funding towards the fight against HIV/AIDs. The UAC wants the government to shoulder at least half of the financial burden in a bid to reduce donor dependence.
The Director General for UAC, Dr Nelson Musoba, said that currently the government contributes only 12 per cent towards HIV/AIDS programmes leaving the rest to donors and the private sector.
“HIV/AIDs still remains predominantly funded externally. As a Commission, we would like to see the government increase it’s funding to HIV/AIDs by at least a half such that in case donors drop out, we are able to absorb the shock,” Musoba said.
He cited funding for Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) where the government contributes only shs 150 billion loading the biggest part of sustaining 1400,000 patients on treatment to donors. This he said puts the health of such patients at risk in case donors drop out.
Musoba said this while appearing before the Presidential Affairs Committee on Thursday, 13 January 2022.
He said that the government should additionally operationalise the long awaited AIDS Trust Fund which he said would ensure stable funding for HIV/AIDs programmes.
The Fund would then be financed by the proposed two per cent tax revenue from alcohol and soft drinks and contributions from donors as provided for in the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2014.
“The law has several provisions on sources of funding; it says charge two per cent on levy for drinks. The other provision is that there can be contributions from donors and individuals, and donors are actually waiting for it to operationalise,” said Musoba.
Legislators encouraged Musoba to interest the Minister in charge of the Presidency who oversees UAC to push for financing of the Fund, saying it will be a relief to the sector.
“We actually started this discussion in the Eighth Parliament after visiting Zimbabwe where it was working; in case it is operational, it will be of a great help to you and the sector,” said Naome Kabasharira, Vice-chairperson of the Presidential Affairs Committee.
Bukwo District Woman MP, Evelyn Chemutai said she had participated in previous engagements regarding the Trust Fund and that the fund was partially delayed by a disagreement on the account where the money would be disbursed.
“There was an argument that the Ministry of Finance wants the money to go to the Consolidated account and then be distributed, but we insist that the Fund should have its own account but managed by the Ministry of Finance,” said Chemutai.
UAC submitted their request of Shs 10.680 billion for the next financial year, which in addition to external funding will focus on reducing the new HIV infections currently at 38,000 and the HIV prevalence rate of 5.4 per cent.