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Uganda AIDS Clinic is Broke, 4,500 Lives at Risk

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(NNPA) A pediatric in-patient unit, which offers acute care to children with advanced HIV, is broke and may close within six months, according to Dr. Emmanuelo Luyirika, the program’s director.

“Mildmay International is appealing to people and organizations towards the support to this cause,” Dr. Luyirika said.

This distress call comes amid growing concern of rising HIV infections in the country, especially among married couples, when funding for life-prolonging drugs is in flux.

Donors currently pay 85 percent of the total amount spent on HIV/Aids programs in Uganda, while the Uganda government allots only 6 percent of its budget - $30 million for anti-retrovirals and anti-malaria drugs, $3 million to fight HIV, and $500,000 for prevention programs.

“We appreciate funding from donors,” said Chris Baryomunsi, a member of the parliament’s HIV committee, “but as a country, we can’t continue relying on them; we must invest on our own for purposes of ownership and sustainability… We want to see continuous progressive increments in government spending on HIV each year until we reach about 30 percent. When a person is put on AIDS drugs, he or she is supposed to be on them for the rest of their lives,” he added.

“What will happen to them if donors suddenly withdraw their help?”

Meanwhile, Uganda is fighting for a settlement with the UK-based Heritage Oil over $400 million owed for capital gains taxes, which the company has refused to pay.

Currently, there is no local legislative framework covering the oil sector. National oil laws including one on revenue management are still in the pipeline and while amendments have been made to tax laws, they may not be retroactive.

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