Parliament will support operationalising of the HIV/AIDS Trust Fund, Speaker Jacob Oulanyah has pledged.
MPs passed the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, in 2014 providing for an HIV/AIDS Trust Fund through which government would levy taxes on alcohol and soft drinks to fund the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In essence, two percent of collections from taxes on spirits, soft drinks, beer, and bottled water was anticipated would finance the fund.
“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 was officiating at the closure of the orientation of MPs on the National HIV/AIDS Response towards ending AIDS by 2030 in Uganda at Hotel Africana on Friday, 17 September 2021.
Parliament will focus on fighting HIV/AIDS, the Speaker said, adding that there is a need to prioritise 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.
Oulanayah challenged leaders to heighten efforts to end HIV/AIDS by 2030, saying that there are already good interventions instituted to fight the pandemic, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
“Even where God gave us hope to protect our children, from mother-to-child transmission, we are messing it. That generation that was protected from the virus at birth, is the one facing the challenge of teenage pregnancies. Double tragedy. As leaders, we need to do something,” 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.
The UAC Director-General, Dr. Nelson Musoba, said HIV prevalence is at an average 6.2 percent in Uganda with women at 7.2 percent and men at 4.7 percent. In 2020, over 38,000 people were infected with HIV, of whom 5,300 were children under 14 years.
“We look to Parliament to provide support both in form of advocacy and allocation of resources to operationalize the trust fund,” Musoba added.
Despite the shortcomings, Musoba said that AIDS-related deaths have declined over the past decade from 53,000 to 22,000 as of December 2020.