Tanzanian legislators have hailed Uganda for what they termed as ‘a spirited fight’ against HIV/AIDS, urging other African governments to emulate the country’s model.
The visiting MPs serving on the Committee of HIV/AIDs Affairs, who are in Uganda to bench mark on HIV/AIDs programming, said they were impressed with not only the efforts made by government but also the voluntary HIV/AIDs networks and the AIDS Information Centre.
“We have visited a network of people living with HIV/AIDS; we have visited NGOs implementing HIV/AIDs programmes and we are impressed with the great work done,” said Hon Oscar Mukasa, the committee chairperson.
This was during a meeting by the MPs and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, held at Kampala Serena Hotel on Tuesday 10 December 2019.
Hon Mukasa observed that just like Uganda, Tanzania’s government has put in place a legal framework favorable for HIV prevention and treatment but had relaxed on functionalizing the HIV/AIDs Trust Fund.
In Uganda, the HIV trust fund is provided for in the HIV/AIDs Prevention and Control Act, 2014, meant to secure predictable and sustainable means of procuring goods and services for HIV and AIDS counseling, testing and treatment, as a way of reversing donor reliance and addressing funding gaps in the fight against the scourge.
Speaker Kadaga said she was equally disturbed that despite the passing of the HIV/AIDs Prevention and Control Act in 2014, government has not functionalized the trust fund.
“This is my area of frustration, when we passed the law we thought we were helping government but it has taken long to materialize the trust fund we asked” Kadaga said.
She said that she would ask the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to explain the delay.
Kadaga further observed that Uganda has relaxed on advocacy against HIV/AIDS and called on stakeholders to re-awaken the momentum.
“Those days we had HIV/AIDs messages played in buses, on bill boards, radios and everywhere, I hope the current strategy of 90,90,90 will address the existing challenges” Kadaga said.
Parliament of Uganda passed the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act in 2014, providing for an HIV/AIDS Trust Fund through which government would levy taxes on alcohol and soft drinks to fund the fight against HIV/AIDS. Two percent of collections from taxes on spirits, soft beers and bottled water was hoped would finance the fund. This has however not materialized with an exception of 2008 when government provided Shs50 billion in a response to the then stock out of antiretroviral drugs.
The Vice Chairperson of the Committee on HIV/AIDS and Related Matters, (Uganda), Hon Joel Ssebikaali, said, “Our worry is that the Shs50 billion is not guaranteed annually, we need the fund to materialize such that it is sustainable and that our people living with HIV would never lack treatment.”