Thursday, 8 June 2017

People Living with HIV have asked government to increase domestic funding towards HIV

 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) have asked government to address the “glaring gaps” that are deterring Uganda from realising the 90 90 90 targets.
Speaking at the International Candlelight day Memorial at Bweyale Church of Uganda Primary School in Kiryandongo District yesterday, PLHIV under their umbrella organization, National Forum of People Living with HIV & AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), said issues such as the constant stock out of HIV & TB medicines, high dependency on donor funds to finance HIV interventions, limited implementation of the HIV policies, guidelines and strategies, gender based violence, poverty, hunger, inadequate HIV counselling as well as the predominant prevalence in HIV related stigma and discrimination are some of the issues that need to be addressed if Uganda is to achieve the ambitious UNAIDS targets by 2020.
Currently, the government of Uganda only allocates 10 per cent of the required funds to the AIDS response. 23 per cent is provided by households while 67 per cent is from AIDS development partners.  
Ms Ritah Namaizi, the Coordinator of PLHIV Masindi advised that as per the memorial’s theme, “Joining hands to scale up HIV prevention” and in the spirit of showing ownership of implementation of health strategies, plans and policies; Government should scale up domestic funding. She added, “There is also need for increased budget allocation for community systems strengthening to improve HIV community based monitoring. The establishment of National HIV & AIDS Trust Fund provided for under the HIV Control and Prevention Act 2014 should be expedited to improve funding towards the AIDS response.”
However, the guest of honour at the memorial, Father Simon Lokodo, State Minister for ethics and integrity in the Office of the President, said the president has directed that the AIDS fund be established.
“The president wants to take on the direct leadership of the HIV response in Uganda and as part of this campaign, he has directed that the AIDS Fund be established and funds be allocated to it through the ministry of finance.”
However, the draft AIDS Trust Fund regulations that were passed by cabinet early this year contentious clauses that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) led by Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO) and Uganda Cares presented before the HIV committee in Parliament.

Issues of concern include the need to increase sources of revenue beyond 2 per cent of the existing beverage tax, the need for transparency in the meeting structure and decisions of the fund, the process of appointing a CSO and PLHIV representative and the need for the fund to be established as an independent body.

People living with HIV presenting their statement during the International Candlelight day memorial
Sarah Tumwebaze
Media and Communications officer