Uganda and America Building on Success in Fighting AIDS; Jerry Lanier, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda; Op-Ed in The Independent; Uganda

December 2, 2010

World AIDS Day is both a day of remembrance and a day of celebration. We must all remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. It is in their honor that we work each and every day to provide HIV prevention, treatment, and care to millions of people and to make progress against this epidemic.

Yet, it is also a day to celebrate those whose lives have been improved and saved in Uganda and throughout the world, thanks to the global fight against this devastating disease. On this World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that we have a shared responsibility to build on the success achieved to date by making smart investments that will ultimately save more lives.

There is much success to build on: In Uganda, the United States, through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 207,000 men, women and children. PEPFAR is also directly supporting 845,000 people in Uganda with care and support programs, including 250,000 orphans and other vulnerable children.

U.S. support continues to grow. PEPFAR is not ending. Instead, building on the success of PEPFAR and other global health programs, President Barack Obama has put forward an ambitious Global Health Initiative, which will support coordinated programs aimed at reducing lives lost from HIV/AIDS and other health challenges. And through U.S. investments in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, many more people will benefit from prevention, care and treatment.

Our commitment to combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda has not wavered. We will continue to support those currently receiving treatment from PEPFAR. We are already looking at ways of improving program efficiencies and effectiveness, making smarter investments, increasing our value for money. In addition, thanks to increased support from Washington, we will have additional resources for treatment services. This started with an infusion of antiretroviral drugs to the National Medical Stores in September, enabling the Ministry of Health to continue treatment while waiting for the next tranche of Global Fund drugs. An increase in funding in the short- and medium-term will enable us to reach 36,000 additional patients with direct treatment support this year and next year.

But the U.S. Government is obviously not - and should not be - the sole supporter of prevention, care, and treatment, either globally or in any particular country. Therefore, we are committed to continuing our intense engagement in support of the national multi-sectoral response led by the Uganda AIDS Commission, the Ministry of Health, and other ministries. We are also committed to helping Uganda improve the functioning of the Global Fund and identify additional bilateral and multilateral funding. We were pleased by the continued commitment of Government funds to purchase antiretroviral drugs, and encourage the Government to increase its support to HIV/AIDS and health in general in the years ahead.

To meet the need, Uganda's national government must resume the central role in leading the national response on health in general, and HIV/AIDS in particular. This will require increased investment in leadership and coordination at all levels of the national response. We will continue to work with the Government, civil society, and the private sector, laying out a shared strategic vision and joint responsibilities. In this way, we can develop a roadmap towards joint strategic framework for cooperation, linked to the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan and the new National Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan.

On this World AIDS Day, we honor the lives lost and celebrate the lives saved. Working together, we must remain dedicated to building on success by making smart investments to save even more lives.

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