Diminishing donor funding fuels HIV rise – report

A health worker analyses blood samples collected from people living with HIV/Aids. Shortage of funds, coupled with Covid-19 disruptions, affected outreaches, distribution of condoms, HIV testing and treatment, triggering an increase in the new infections from 38,000 in 2020 to 54,000 in 2021. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The Committee said only the US government through the President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR) is still on board and provides approximately $400 million (Shs1.5 trillion).  

The parliamentary Committee on HIV/Aids has warned of an increase in infections and deaths due to the diminishing support from donors, who have been contributing 80 percent of the funds for the fight.  

The Members of Parliament, in their August 18 report, indicated that the country has lost vital donors such as the governments of Ireland and Denmark. This contributed partly to a funding shortfall of $120 million (Shs457b) in the 2021/2022 financial year, higher than the $77m (Shs293b) shortfall in the previous financial year.  

The report further indicates that the shortage of funds, coupled with Covid-19 disruptions, affected outreaches, distribution of condoms, HIV testing and treatment, triggering an increase in the new infections from 38,000 in 2020 to 54,000 in 2021.  

Of the 1.4 million Ugandans living with HIV, 88,000 are children aged between zero to 14.  

“We are concerned with the over-reliance on donor funding which is declining and in addition, the delays by the government in operationalising the Aids Trust Fund (ATF). These have affected the overall implementation and coordination of comprehensive HIV intervention services,” the committee report reads in part. 

It adds: “Reduction in donor funding is due to global trends and challenges in the local economy. Globally, priorities like climate change and security have emerged. Government cannot afford to leave the welfare of 1.4 million Ugandans in a state of uncertainty [at the mercy of foreign donors].” 

The Committee said only the US government through the President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR) is still on board and provides approximately $400 million (Shs1.5 trillion).  

However, another document this newspaper obtained from the vice chairperson of the Committee, Mr Stephen Kisa, indicates that support from donors such as the governments of Denmark, Ireland, and Sweden has just declined. There was also a slight increase in the funding from the government of Uganda, but too little to meet the needs.  

Of the 19 sources of funding, five increased their funding, seven decreased their support while the remaining seven maintained their contribution despite the increasing needs, according to the records in the document. The donors cut around $10.2 million (Shs39b) in 2021/2022 but the decline has been gradual over the years.   

HIV/Aids financing projections for 2020/2021-2024/2025 based on the National Strategic Plan show a total need of $ 4.1 billion (Shs15.6 trillion) currently, with Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) having commitments of $2.8 billion (Shs10.6 trillion), leaving a funding gap of $1.3 billion (Shs4.9 trillion). 

Government support towards the HIV response is very low at eight percent, with donors at 84 percent and the private sector also contributes eight percent. 


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