Efforts against HIV commendable
Posted Wednesday, March 20 2013 at 02:00
And if this strategy succeeds, transmission rates in Uganda should reduce while treatment costs are bound to drop below the current levels....
Going by the billions of dollars and the priceless lives that the HIV/Aids epidemic has cost us as a country, it’s only appropriate for us to commend the government’s latest strategy to curb the spread of the virus.
Dubbed ‘Option B+’, the new strategy targets prevention of mother-to-child transmission and promotes continuous anti-retroviral treatment for life for all positive women even after pregnancy, unlike the previous one—Option A— that provides anti-retroviral drugs only during pregnancy.
At a time when the HIV infection rate in Uganda has risen to 7.3 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in 2005, according to the Uganda Aids Indicator Survey released in mid-2012, the introduction of Option B+ shows the government’s commitment to stepping up the fight against the pandemic whose cure is yet to be found.
Until August last year, Uganda was a success story in terms of fighting the disease soon after winning international approval, and financial aid, for its efforts. This attracted aid programmes and public health strategies to fight the disease across the developing world; meaning a lot of money has been pumped into stemming the spread of the virus.
Last September alone, the United States government offered Uganda a grant of $10.75 million (Shs28b) to help fight the HIV/Aids epidemic. Channelled through the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the money would be given to three faith-based HIV/Aids service providers; Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau, the Uganda Episcopal Conference-Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau and the Children’s Aids Fund over the next five years.
Early this week, Health minister Christine Ondoa said the country has so far received Shs6.6 billion from the US plus another Shs15.8 billion from the Swedish International Development towards implementing Option B+ to arrest mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The government will, however, need to ensure that the funds are managed prudently if the strategy is to yield good results.
And if this strategy succeeds, transmission rates in Uganda should reduce while treatment costs are bound to drop below the current levels, subsequently leading to an HIV-free generation.
Still, in the long-run the money that is currently being spent on curbing the virus could be used on other social economic development projects.