UNAIDS boss tells Kadaga to monitor AIDS money

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The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibe has called for more transparency in the use of donor funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and management.

Sidibe, who met the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, ahead of the launch of the Presidential Fast Track Initiative on Ending AIDS 2030, on Tuesday 6th June 2017, said institutions like Parliament were not informed about the use of donor money.

“If I were in your shoes, I would have called for more transparency in the management and utilization of donor money for AIDS. I would have to see in which areas the money is used,” he said adding that “I would be pushing for this everywhere.”

Sidibe said that lots of money was flowing into the country through the Global Fund and PEPFAR that should not be used without Parliament’s oversight.

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a public/private international financing organization aiming to attract and disburse additional resources to prevent and treat the three diseases.

PEPFAR stands for the (US) President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, which is a US governmental initiative to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Think of a mechanism to bring transparency in this area,” Sidibe told the Speaker.

He said he had been to Nigeria where he met the Speaker and Minister of Finance, both of whom did not know into which areas AIDS money from donors was put.

He said that without following the donor money, sustainability and drawing up a transition plan would be difficult.

Sidibe appealed to the Speaker of Parliament to assist through advocating against stigma and discrimination against those persons living with AIDS.

He said that lack of information was preventing people from testing for HIV/AIDS and was pushing those with the disease underground.

“Because they lack knowledge, they go underground, and cannot get tested or obtain medicine. With the disease, people think it’s a death sentence,” he said.

He also said that there was need to change the message passed on, to target males between 20 – 39, most of whom have not tested for HIV/AIDS but are sexually active, mostly with adolescent girls.

Speaker, Kadaga agreed with the Director about the need for transparency, but said that most of the implementing agencies or bodies report to their donors not government.

“We have been battling with government over counterpart funding. We will definitely take interest,” she said adding, “Some of this money may not be included in the budget as donor support.”

She promised to discuss with the Committee on Health and establish how donor money for AIDS is used in the country.

In May 2017, the Speaker separately met the Ag. Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr. Nelson Musoba and the UNAIDS Country Director, Amakobe Sande.

She called for more involvement of men in the fight against HIV/AIDS, having observed that mostly women attended organized HIV/AIDS campaigns and meetings.

The Presidential Fast Track Initiative on Ending AIDS 20130 comprises a five point plan to curb the spread of the disease. The points include: male involvement in advocacy campaign against AIDS; limiting new AIDS infections; preventing mother-to-child transmission of the disease; financial sustainability in the advocacy for the fight against AIDS; and the immediate test and treatment campaign.

President Yoweri Museveni launched the Initiative at a function held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala yesterday, Tuesday 6th June 2017.