US govt commits to continue supporting Uganda’s fight against HIV/AIDS

Kampala, (UG): The new Ambassador of the United States of America to Uganda, H.E. William W. Popp has affirmed the commitment by the US government to continue supporting Uganda in its fight against HIV/AIDS.

“Uganda has achieved a lot of success in the 21st Century as far as the fight against HIV/AIDS is concerned. We should continue working together to save lives,” Mr Popp commented.

The Ambassador also announced that the US Government has approved the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Country Operational Plan (COP) 2023 to ensure that life-saving assistance continues to benefit the people of Uganda.

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PEPFAR aims to save lives, prevent HIV infections, and accelerate progress toward achieving HIV/AIDS pandemic control in more than 50 countries around the world.

The program is the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, enabled by strong bipartisan support across ten U.S. congresses and four presidential administrations, and through the American people’s generosity. PEPFAR shows the power of what is possible through compassionate, cost-effective, accountable, and transparent American foreign assistance.

Mr Popp, however, expressed concern over Uganda’s recently signed Anti- Homosexuality Law, saying that it’s likely to frustrate service delivery most especially in areas of healthcare as far as the sexual minorities are concerned.

“We are concerned that some marginalised people will be isolated. We should ensure that all people access health services so that HIV//AIDS is eliminated,” Ambassador Popp said.

On her part, the Minister for Presidency, Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda commended the US government for supporting Uganda’s development agenda through providing technical and financial support.

Hon Babalanda explained that Uganda’s development agenda is anchored on the Third National Development Plan, the Uganda Vision 2040, the East African Community Vision 2050, the Africa Union (AU) 2063 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in order to achieve its goals, the country recognises that partnerships are very critical at all levels of these development benchmarks.

“Over the years, development assistance has been a critical catalyst that enabled the government to deliver on its planned objectives. Development Partners have provided technical and financial support to these processes at both national and program-specific levels. The government of the United States of America has strongly supported these processes, especially during the last three decades,” She noted.

Hon. Babalanda who congratulated Ambassador Popp upon his recent posting to Uganda, further acknowledged USA’s support to Uganda’s health sector especially in relation to fighting HIV and AIDS over the last 20 years. This is in addition to the support they provide in Agriculture, Energy, Security, and Wildlife Conservation, among others.

“Your Excellency; Uganda has enjoyed a long, warm and beneficial relationship with the United States of America. We have also enjoyed a cordial relationship with officials who have been representing the United States Government in Uganda and we are looking forward to continuing with and building on this relationship,” she articulated.

“Because of the contribution of the United States Government to the HIV and AIDS program, over the last 20 years, Uganda has made tremendous progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS; lowering infection rates from 18% in the late 1990s to the current 5.4%. AIDS-related deaths have also reduced from about 50,000 in 2010 to 17,000 in 2022. I have great faith that working together, Uganda will be able to achieve epidemic control and reach the goal of ending AIDS as a Public Health threat by 2030,” she added.

On the other hand, the Minister informed her guest that the government of Uganda is now focusing on Poverty eradication through increasing the number of households in the money economy as well as climate change mitigation among others, thus inviting him to join the country in its endeavours towards achieving a middle-income status.

Dr Neslon Musoba, the Director General of the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) on his part allayed the Ambassador’s fears by assuring him that the government of Uganda only came up with the law to deal with the promotion and recruitment of unsuspecting citizens into the vice.

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Musoba expounded that the President has occasionally made it clear that no single person should be denied healthcare based on their sexual orientation.

“His Excellency has been the champion in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we really appreciate the investment and dedication we have put together with the US government so no one wants to reverse that,” Dr. Musoba said.

The meeting which was held on Friday, September 20, at the Office of the President in Kampala was also attended by the Senior Presidential Advisor on Research Dr. Daniel Ssekiboobo, PEPFAR Country Coordinator, Ms. Mary Borgman and the Economic Chief of the US Embassy, Mr. Luis Salas.

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