Global Financial Crisis Could Hamper Uganda’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Officials Say
The future of Uganda's recently launched five-year strategic plan aimed at reducing new HIV/AIDS cases in the country is uncertain because of the global financial crisis, which could lead donors to allocate funding more conservatively, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The strategic plan -- aimed at reducing Uganda's annual HIV incidence by 40% and increasing access to HIV/AIDS services -- is estimated to cost $2 billion. There has been no indication yet that donors will not be able to meet their pledges to Uganda because of the financial crisis, James Kigozi, information officer at the Uganda AIDS Commission, said. He added, "Unless they give us notification, we expect to get the $2 billion over five years as planned."
However, Mai Harper, UNAIDS country coordinator, said she "would be surprised" if Uganda receives all of the funds pledged by donors. She said that this is the "last window of opportunity, and we ought to get things right" by refocusing the country's fight against HIV/AIDS on prevention. In addition, Harper said that Uganda should use resources more efficiently and reduce corruption, adding, "Countries like Uganda should set their priorities very clearly." Uganda received about $240 million from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for 2007-2008, as well as $70 million for HIV/AIDS programs from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the organization's seventh funding round. The government set aside $4 million for malaria and antiretroviral drugs for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, according to IRIN/PlusNews.
According to Jim Arinaitwe, Global Fund coordinator at the Uganda AIDS Commission, governments are facing increased pressure to become more sustainable. He said Uganda will have to pay greater attention to its HIV/AIDS prevention during the financial crisis, adding, "When we prevent infection we have less people to treat." According to Kigozi, Uganda has been considering creating a national fund to guarantee sustainable resources for HIV/AIDS programs in the country. He added that the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS supports a national fund because donor funding can be unpredictable (IRIN/PlusNews, 10/23).