Uganda’s Minister of Health Worries About A Slowdown in US Commitment to Fighting AIDS

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Uganda’s Minister of Health recently told leading U.S. decision makers that “concern is growing across the African continent about a slowdown in U.S. assistance” to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr. Stephen Mallinga says any weakening in U.S. support or funding for PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would be a significant setback for Uganda and other countries, and indeed could strain partnerships with key African allies. Mallinga’s letter references the Administration’s forthcoming Global Health Initiative and urges the Obama White House to maintain the pace of AIDS assistance even as they flesh out that new plan.

“I believe a U.S. Global Health Initiative will be most effective if it adds on to the work around AIDS rather than shifting resources and attention away from AIDS,” Mallinga writes. He said Uganda has benefited tremendously from PEPFAR. Among other achievements, he said the number of women accessing U.S.-supported prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services increased by nearly 45 percent in 2008 in Uganda.

“An even greater U.S. commitment to global health, strategically leveraging off of and intricately linked to PEPFAR’s successful interventions, could make it possible for Uganda and many other sub-Saharan African countries to make faster progress on AIDS while at the same time seriously addressing other health issues which have not received adequate attention or resources in past years, including maternal health,” he wrote.

No word yet about a response from Clinton or from Dr. Eric Goosby, the Obama Administration’s global AIDS coordinator, who was copied on the missive. Goosby visited Uganda around the time the letter was drafted, and in meetings with top Ugandan officials, he outlined his vision for PEPFAR and discussed the next steps in the U.S.-Uganda partnership against global AIDS. Click here to read the official State Department news release on Goosby’s trip.

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