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MPs, NGOs Demand Implementation of AIDs Trust Fund

The AIDs Trust Fund is provided for under the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, 2012 and it is supposed to draw its funding from the Consolidated Fund. The Fund was planned to generate money through different levies on bank transactions, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes and other taxes on services and goods traded within the country. For instance, 2 per cent of collections from taxes on spirits, soft drinks, beer and bottled water was anticipated would finance the fund.
Members of Parliament meeting officials fromdifferent Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in the fight against the spread of AIDs.

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Legislators under the Parliamentary Forum on Quality Health and HIV/AIDs have demanded the immediate implementation of the AIDs Trust Fund to help in the country’s fight against the disease.

The legislators made the call during a joint meeting today at Parliament with different Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDs.

The NGOs included Infectious Disease Institute, Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDs- UGANET, Uganda Cares, Joint Medical Stores and others.

The AIDs Trust Fund is provided for under the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, 2012 and it is supposed to draw its funding from the Consolidated Fund. The Fund was planned to generate money through different levies on bank transactions, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes and other taxes on services and goods traded within the country. For instance, 2 per cent of collections from taxes on spirits, soft drinks, beer and bottled water was anticipated would finance the fund.

During today’s meeting, MPs learnt that 80 percent of financial support towards the HIV/AIDs fight comes from donors and yet some have started withdrawing. The organizations seek a provision of 10 billion Shillings in the Trust Fund saying that HIV/AIDs is still a threat to the nation.

Henry Magala, the Country Director for Uganda Cares says that if the funds are not provided, the country will not be able to end HIV. He noted that there is more risk of infection since about 90,000 girls got pregnant during the lock down meaning these had unprotected sex, hence chances of more infections.

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Dr. Andrew Kambugu, the Executive Director of Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) at Makerere University said that the issue of the Aids Trust Fund is key and needs to be urgently implemented to enable Uganda close the funding gaps in its fight against HIV/AIDs.

Luganda

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The Kagoma North MP, Alex Kintu Brandon said that the forum and parliament are to ensure that the Fund is implemented. Kintu doubles as the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus spokesperson.

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In August last year, former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga faulted the Ministry of Finance for failing to avail funds for the AIDs Trust Fund (ATF) which she said was provided for under the law as a matter of urgency to support the Presidential Initiative against HIV/AIDs. 

Recently, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah pledged that the House would support the operationalisation of the HIV/AIDs Trust Fund. Oulanyah said this on 17th September while officiating at the closure of the orientation of MPs on the National HIV/AIDS Response towards ending AIDS by 2030.

“We had ping-pong with the regulations but we still insisted that they should come because it is supposed to be the Fund that will help. Whatever happened to that Fund, I will find out,” he said. 

Oulanyah then said that parliament would focus on fighting HIV/AIDS and that there was need to prioritize budgeting and policies to end the pandemic.  “That war must be fought in Parliament by the budget committee and policies which shift towards dealing with issues of HIV/AIDS,” he said.

According to a report by the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC), new HIV infections are almost four times higher among female adolescents than their male counterparts.

HIV prevalence is at an average 6.2 per cent in Uganda with women at 7.2 per cent and men at 4.7 per cent. In 2020, over 38,000 people were infected with HIV, of whom 5,300 were children under 14 years.