News / Africa

Uganda AIDS Programs at Risk From Proposed US Budget Cuts

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Uganda was one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to address the HIV/AIDS crisis early on.  Over the years, it’s come to rely heavily on U.S. support for its prevention and treatment programs.  But Congress is considering cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Dr. Edward Bitarakwate says Uganda has come a long way in its effort to stem the epidemic.

“The situation now,” he says, “is much better than it was 20 years ago, where at one point we had a peak in prevalence of up to 18 percent in certain sections of the population. So the prevalence has really come down now to about 6 and a half percent in the adult population. So we’ve had very successful prevention programs that have enabled the prevalence rates to stabilize around there.”

Bitarakwate is the Uganda country director for the U.S.-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

“We’ve also had a very successful treatment program and we have over 250,000 patients receiving lifesaving antiretroviral therapy – the treatment for HIV. That’s a number that’s been progressively increasing over the years. We still have a long way to go. We still need to put an extra 100,000 patients on treatment if we are to meet our treatment target. And so a lot of the program is trying to address that gap,” he says.

Mothers and babies

He says, the Glaser Foundation’s efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the AIDS virus have brought major benefits.

Mother, nurse and baby in PMTCT program
Mother, nurse and baby in PMTCT program

“Over the last five years alone, the programs have grown from almost nothing to coverage of about 50 percent of all HIV-positive pregnant women in the country.  Right now, efforts are being made to cover the second half and also to expand the detection of HIV in young children,” says Bitarakwate.

Bitarakwate says without the program there would be an additional 22,000 HIV-infected children born every year in Uganda - and many HIV-positive pregnant women would go undiagnosed.

The Glaser Foundation wants Congress to take note of its success and rethink cutting funds to PEPFAR and the Global Fund.

“Almost 90 percent of the funding we have is from the U.S. government. And any funding cuts would significantly impact the work we’re doing. But that said, you know, we’ve tried to devise means of being as cost effective as possible. We are learning to offer more services without increasing our budget. So it’s an adjustment we’re making. But any cuts in funding would undeniably affect the work that’s being done,” he says.

The Glaser Foundation is one of many groups and organizations calling on Congress to reject the budget cuts.  They say reductions would mean more people being infected with HIV and going without treatment. In the long run, they say, it would cost more money because the problem would have grown much bigger.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid