By Gloria Nakimba
A total of 8.76 million Ugandans were tested for HIV/AIDS in 2017, according to new report to the Ugandan People released by the US Embassy in Kampala on Thursday.
US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac says her government spent 506.1 million US dollars, about 1.8 trillion Uganda shillings in assistance to promote a healthy Uganda while the overall assistance to the Ugandan people in the financial year 2017 totaled to 971 Million US dollars approximately 3.6 trilling shillings.
According to the report nearly 60% of Ugandans living with HIV achieved viral load suppression which has been shown to reduce onward transmission by 96%.
Ambassador Malac however noted that there are still challenges regarding resources for health workers asking government to invest more in the health sector to address this challenge.
This she says is a challenge not just in Uganda but in a number of countries where the resources are constrained, and health workers including nurses, midwives and physician are not paid enough to retain them to keep them as part of the system.
Center for Disease Control country director Dr. Lisa Nelson noted that Uganda has registered great progress in HIV response getting towards the epidemic control as well as controlling malaria.
She explained that much of the support was towards the health sector to help the country deal with disease outbreaks “Uganda is in the Congo basin with a lot of emerging disease threats, and I think one of the things the US government and all agencies are involved in is also supporting Uganda to have the system to detect disease outbreaks and be prepared to respond so that they don’t spread and contain economic impact of those threats” Dr. Lisa Nelson told the media at the launch of the report at the American embassy in Nsambya. She hailed Uganda’s capability to diagnose infections as and when they break out.
“Some of your institutions such as Uganda virus research institute really are world class and are able to detect these disease and able to detect them in a timely fashion” she said.
Uganda is among 13 countries that were selected as one of the comprehensive countries to focus on epidemic control. Amy Cunningham Coordinator PEPFAR program told the media in Kampala that the country is two years away from epidemic control.
PEPFAR supported 993,070 of the 1,051,138 Ugandans receiving treatment for HIV last year. According to the report, more than 26 million Ugandans were kept safe from Malaria last year, thanks to the insecticide treated mosquito nets that were distributed under the US President’s Malaria initiative.
More than one million insecticide treated nets were distributed to families and 200,000 nets were handed out to pregnant women.
Malaria remains the leading cause of illness in the country resulting in 27 to 34 percent of outpatient hospital visits and 19 to 30 percent of hospital admissions country wide .On the issue of stability, the US government contributed 371.3 million dollars that is 1.3 trillion shillings to promote a stable Uganda.
According to Ambassador Malac some this money went towards supporting the country’s response to an influx of refugees.
1.3 million Refugees in Uganda received assistance through support from the Bureau of population refugees and migration at the US department of state
She hailed Uganda’s response towards refugees fleeing fighting back home especially those from South Sudan
“We continue to be very impressed with the government of Uganda and the Ugandan people’s willingness to accept refugees, it’s really a very extraordinary position” Ambassador Malac noted.