President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday blamed Uganda the Aids Commission for the rising prevalence of Aids in the country.
Within less than a decade, Uganda has gone from a ‘consultant’ on how to fight HIV/Aids, to being the only African country with rising infection rates. And Mr Museveni believes that some of the “new” approaches to Aids prevention, that UAC has embraced, have led to more people catching the disease.
Speaking at ceremonies to mark World Aids day at Kasensero landing site, in Rakai district, the president said methods like circumcision and condom use had caused more harm than good.
“I think the only way to prevent Aids is through abstinence and being faithful to each other for those who are married,” he said.
In the 1990s, Uganda gained world acclaim for promoting the ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful and Condom use) strategy to drastically cut infection rates. However, a combination of factors, including complacency and incoherent messages, have seen the country lose the momentum.
The Uganda Aids Indicator Survey (UAIS) figures of 2011 show that the prevalence of HIV among adults has increased from 6.4% in 2005 to 7.3% in 2011. Ministry of Health figures also indicate that new infections increased by 11.5% from 115,775 in 2007/8 to 128,980 in 2010/11.
But according to Musa Bugundu, the country coordinator for UNAIDS, circumcision is not bad; the messages encouraging people to use it should be designed in such a way that people should use it concurrently with other methods. Speaking at Kasensero on behalf of Uganda’s development partners, Swedish Ambassador Urban Andersson challenged the government to increase funding of the national efforts to combat HIV/Aids.
He said Uganda was funding barely 11 per cent of the efforts, leaving the initiatives scattered and unsustainable. Andersson also encouraged the government to focus on investing in health workers. Uganda’s health sector is critically understaffed, with about 42% of positions vacant.
UAC also argues the health sector needs more resources, including human resources, to steer all the interventions put forward to combat scourges like Aids.