Uganda is set to host the 21st International Conference on AIDs and Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs ICASA come December 2021 after last year’s held in Kigali, Rwanda.
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, however, cautioned government against continued human rights violations as this poses a threat to this milestone.
Officially meeting with the Uganda AIDS Commission since her appointment as the Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima did not mince her words in what key areas continue to hinder Uganda’s ability to end AIDS as a public health threat in 2030.
Byanyima says the continued violation of human rights especially the marginalized could hinder Uganda’s opportunity to host the ICASA 2021.
The event represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the African region’s HIV epidemic and the unique response to it.
Byanyima says Uganda is still grappling with various challenges including corruption, social barriers and financing.
She says for example that 93% of Uganda’s budget to fight the scourge is funded externally.
Donors are especially concerned that Uganda has failed to step up its funding as external donations continue to drop. There was a noticeable drop in funding from $601m in 2017/2018 to $555.9m in 2019 /2020.
The government of Uganda was supposed to contribute up to 40% funds in the national AIDS response but has only managed to raise 13%.
Cabinet Minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo reemphasized government’s commitment to eradicate AIDS through different interventions.
She noted that Uganda had witnessed a reduction in HIV infections by 35% since 2010. There had also been a reduction in AIDS related deaths by 50%.
The government is also working hard to sensitize the population and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with being HIV positive.
She informed Byanyima that as the new UNAIDS Executive Director, she will need to look into the lack of a common implementation and monitoring framework with agreed indicators.
She said that the country still faces the challenge of negative socio-cultural norms, beliefs and practices including GBV which are still a major obstacle to HIV response at both household and community level.
She said there is still inadequate financing for the national HIV response.
Edited by David Tumusiime