Civil Society Statement at the World AIDS Day commemoration
H.E, the president of the republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, protocol observed, ladies, gentlemen and others. We the civil society organizations working in health and HIV&AIDS, join other Ugandans and the International Community to commemorate World AIDS Day 2016.
We would like to thank the government of Uganda for its commitment to end AIDS by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Civil Society acknowledges its collaboration with the Government to meaningfully contribute to the 90/90/90 UNAIDS strategy to End AIDS. Together we are making strides. “Ending AIDS is possible only if we join hands”.
In this year’s World AIDS day Global theme; “Hands Up on HIV Prevention”; CSOs in Uganda are Joining Hands to scale up HIV Prevention. In order to End AIDS in Uganda there is need to scale up investment in evidence based HIV prevention strategies and address the following issues as a matter of urgency;
- Improving Domestic Financing of the AIDS Response; Access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support services are a right that should take center stage in domestic budgetary allocations. GoU only allocates 10% of its taxes to the AIDS response and 23% by households while 67% is from health development partners. In the spirit of showing ownership of implementation of health strategies, plans and polices; government should resist depending entirely on eternal funding. The stalled National health insurance bill 2013 and the establishment of the National HIV&AIDS Trust Fund provided for under the HIV Act 2014 should be expedited to improve funding towards the AIDS response.
- Reducing prices for life-saving ART: Despite the recent change in the national ART eligibility guidelines to provide every Ugandan living with HIV treatment; Government of Uganda is overpaying by at least 36% for HIV treatment procured by National Medical Stores using taxpayer resources. This is both unreasonable and unacceptable.
- Saying No to Persistent shortages and stock outs of medicines, lubricants, test kits and condoms: As we speak today, we know there are lifesaving HIV medicines that are out of stock or expired in our Health facilities, as well as test kits and condoms. How can we end the epidemic as a country when people are developing HIV drug resistance due to stock outs? We need to have Health facilities effectively forecasting lifesaving medicines needed and NMS being flexible enough to rapidly respond to emergencies.
- Improving access to viral load testing: An estimated 1.6 million people in Uganda are living with HIV/AIDS. Among those accessing treatment only 29% have accessed Viral Load testing services as of August 2016. There is need to increase the number of viral load machines and Human Resources for health to meet the current need.
- Accountability and Leadership in the AIDS response; Ten months after the Global Fund Office of the Inspector General released Audit findings showing systemic mismanagement of Funds, massive national stock outs of life saving ART, and government indifference to poor Global Fund grant performance, substantial changes have not occurred. A number of the recommendations as per the audit report have not been implemented to date.
- Targeted HIV/AIDS response for young people and adolescents; Globally, an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, 2.1 million are adolescents aged 10-19 years and approximately two-thirds of all new HIV infections is among the adolescent girls. Young people/adolescents are more vulnerable to HIV due to engaging in risky sexual behavior and must be targeted with prevention, care and treatment related intervention. HIV prevention is key to ending the AIDS epidemic among young people and the cycle of HIV infection needs to be broken. Access to services must be ensured for the young people who are most affected and marginalized.
For God and My Country!