News / Africa

Cut in Uganda’s Health Budget Alarms AIDS Activists

Women wait with their babies to be tested for HIV at a hospital in Bududa, eastern Uganda, September 27, 2011.Women wait with their babies to be tested for HIV at a hospital in Bududa, eastern Uganda, September 27, 2011.
x
Women wait with their babies to be tested for HIV at a hospital in Bududa, eastern Uganda, September 27, 2011.
Women wait with their babies to be tested for HIV at a hospital in Bududa, eastern Uganda, September 27, 2011.
Andrew Green
KAMPALA - Uganda is at the beginning of a months-long budgeting process for the country’s next fiscal year. AIDS activists are already alarmed at a proposed reduction in the health budget and are demanding more money to curb the country’s epidemic.
 
The possibility of funding cuts come despite ambitious targets set by the government last December to virtually eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015. Kampala also pledged to double the number of new HIV patients on treatment this year, as it attempts to reduce a rising HIV rate of nearly 7 percent.
 
But rather than improvements, some HIV-positive Ugandans say they have seen a reduction in available services.

Nakisozi Mastula was diagnosed with HIV in 2005. Each month she goes to a clinic for a CD4 test, which will tell her if she needs to start anti-retroviral therapy. She also gets Septrin, a drug she takes daily to combat possible infections.
 
“Earlier this morning, it was my day to go back for my CD4 count and to get Septrin," she said. "But when I reached the hospital, the CD4 count was not operating. I did not receive my Septrin. If I miss Septrin, I’m starting losing hope.”

AIDS activists have expressed concern that Uganda's proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a 6-percent cut in health funding to $307.5 million.  That is less than 10 percent of the country’s overall budget. Joshua Wamboga of The AIDS Support Organization said the country’s efforts to curb the disease could be undermined by a lack of financial commitment.

“We are saying we need to scale up enrollment on HIV treatment to be able to reverse the HIV infection trend," said Wamboga. "And that will take leadership. Leadership of this country Uganda.”
 
Government officials said the cut to the health budget reflects construction projects in that sector that have been completed and no longer require funding. But activists said the country needs to invest more money in health if it is going to meet its ambitious HIV goals.
 
Florence Buluba, the executive director of the National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, said a severe shortage in medical workers overall has an outsized impact on HIV-positive pregnant women. Women who turn to health centers to help them prevent HIV transmission during and after pregnancy find little assistance, said Buluba.
 
“They are confronted with poor attitudes, especially in health centers, just because the health providers are few. The personnel at the health centers is not sufficient enough to address to the number of patients. Then we also find out that those who attempt to get the treatment are not followed up. So we find out that the babies are born. They are not given the treatment and they end up being infected," she said.
 
The budget is months away from being finalized and activists hope there is still time to increase funds. Sam Lyomoki, chairman of Parliament's Social Services Committee that oversees the health budget, is calling for increased funding.
 
“On this matter, the committee this time is very serious," he said. "And they are not going to accept a situation where we comment and finance doesn’t want to support the recommendation.”
 
After committees conclude their reports, the budgets will be returned to the various ministries, including health, for revisions. Lyomoki said he is hopeful more money will be forthcoming. If not, he said his committee would look at reallocating money from expenditures like conferences and workshops toward filling staffing gaps and beefing up HIV programs.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs