Saturday April 8 2017

Fear as US cuts UNFPA funding

Dr Diana Atwine, the Health ministry permanent

Dr Diana Atwine, the Health ministry permanent secretary, dismissed the fears, saying the aid cut will not greatly affect national programmes. 

By DAVID MAFABI

KAMPALA. Many projects being funded by the United States through United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) face a bleak future after the US Department of State announced it is ending funding to the UN agency.
Aid agencies that receive funding directly from UNFPA have warned that the cutting of the fund taps announced this week could put at risk the lives of many vulnerable Ugandans. The executive director of Uganda Network of Aids Service Organisations (UNASO), Mr Joshua Wamboga, said UNFPA has been directly funding activities of the Aids Information Centre (AIC) and warned that the suspension means a number of activities run by AIC are likely to stall.
The AIC spokesperson, Ms Sheila Birungi, said AIC has just signed a contract of five years with UNFPA to provide healthcare services, including sexual reproductive health and expressed fear that the aid cut now means the programme might not take off.

“We have just signed a five-year contract with UNFPA to provide funding for Karamoja sub-region up to 2022. This pronouncement impacts greatly on our programmes,” Ms Birungi said. But Dr Diana Atwine, the Health ministry permanent secretary, dismissed the fears, saying the aid cut will not greatly affect national programmes.
UNFPA has been in Uganda since 1987 and works to address the challenges of high maternal mortality, the unmet needs for family planning, programme support for increased use of midwifery services and enabling young people make healthy lifestyle choices.
The US Department of State announced ending funding to UNFPA, the international body’s agency focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.

A statement by the US Department of State dated April 4 said it was withholding $32.5m (about Shs116b) in funding for the fiscal year 2017 because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation”.
The administration of US President Donald Trump is expected to imminently withdraw US funding to UNFPA, costing the organisation a major supporter. The United States was the fourth-largest voluntary donor to UNFPA in 2015, giving $75 million (about Shs270b) in core budget and earmarked contributions.

dmafabi@ug.nationmedia.com

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