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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid