The Sunday Vision of December 29, 2019 carried a story under a headline “Uganda gets Shs2 trillion for HIV, Malaria.” Dr Joshua Musingunzi, who is the HIV/ Aids control programme manager at the Ministry of Health was reported as confirming that Uganda has scooped a Global Fund Grant worth $ 600m ( about Shs2.2 trillion) to fight HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
This is obviously great news to Ugandans particularly those living with or burdened by the diseases.
Analytically, the news was reported at an appropriate time; the festive season where many people contract the HIV/Aids virus due to reckless behaviour. Second, this shows that many Ugandans are in need of drugs and related service.
Third, securing the grant indicates that our government is utilising and properly accounting for the global fund grants, thus building confidence among donors.
Either way, we need to congratulate Ministry of Health officials upon attaining this tremendous achievement on behalf of Ugandans.
However, I recently watched with shock, the ‘ugly news’, where the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwiine and her under-secretary, Mr Ronald Gyagenda Ssegawa, were embarrassingly being temporarily “detained” by parliamentary police on the orders of chairman of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, Mr Nandala Mafabi for their failure to account for some ministry funds estimated in billions of shillings! Yet as we all know, the same Ministry of Health is the main – stream supervising institution of this huge grant. The history of accountability of the same fund by the same ministry is just bad enough.
At the risk of sounding like a “prophet of doom” or a real pessimist, may I know from the Minister of Health and Dr Maggie Kigozi, the chair of the Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM), the magic they first of all, used to convince the donors to release this great new year gift to Uganda and also, what are they going to do to realise successful and effective delivery of services?
We need to know their strategy so as to gain confidence in them and subsequently join hands to fight and celebrate the total elimination or drastic reduction of cases of HIV/Aids, TB and malaria which have retarded the steady growth of our country’s human resource. Where is realistic, robust and revolutionary plan of action to utilise this grant for intended purpose?
Conclusively, Ugandans, especially those who are already victims or are living with HIV/Aids should be put at the forefront of this project by the programme managers. Those charged with managing the fund should avoid priotising seminars and workshops.