Donor funding for anti-retroviral therapy in Uganda is not increasing despite the rising number of people in need of the treatment.
There are an estimated 940,000 people living with HIV in Uganda with about half this number dependent on free ARVs provided by donor countries and organizations. A considerable amount of the funding is from the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Now a source, who asked not to be named because of the relationship between his organization and PEPFAR, says funding from the United States is not expected to increase over the next five years. Additionally the Global Fund for Malaria, Tuberculosis and AIDS has not increased their funding to Uganda because of the misappropriation of the fund three years ago.
James Kigozi, the Public Relations Officer of the Uganda AIDS Commission, says many AIDS care organizations have no other choice but to deal with the hand they have been dealt. He says most of the AIDS care organizations, like the people they serve, rely almost entirely on donor funds.
Kigozi says HIV related campaigns are being forced to shift focus from treatment to prevention because of the high ARV cost.
The lifetime ARV treatment cost for one patient costs 23 million shillings.
The complications that may arise from the AIDS funding were further complicated by the parliamentary budget committee, which recommended a cut in allocations for ARV drugs to be reduced from 76 billion shillings to only 40 billion shillings this financial year. It is expected that this will further reduce the number of people in need of the free drugs.
Uganda needs 3.6 trillion shillings to treat all patients with HIV.
The largest public ARV clinic in Uganda is run by the Mulago Hospital Institute for Infectious Diseases.
Benson Bahame, one of the people receiving treatment at the clinic, says he is worried by the funding situation. He says that while the clinic is attempting to provide ARVs for all those who seek treatment there, often drugs to treat opportunistic diseases that come with AIDS are in short supply.
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Dr. Andrew Kambugu, the head of the clinic at the Institute for Infectious Diseases, says the clinic presently takes care of 10,000 patients.