Health activists have raised concern over the high prices of drugs and materials used in testing and treat treatment of HIV/AIDS in the country.
With high inflation and rising costs of all commodities, antiretroviral drugs have not been spared. Uganda Care officials say the cost of treatment for one patient has doubled yet funding is also dwindling.
“The cost of anti-HIV drugs is so high,” said Dr Augustine Lubanga, the National Medical Director of Uganda Cares (AHF), a non profit that provides free HIV treatment during a medical camp organized at Kasana playground in Masaka. He appealed to big parma to reconsider prices and asked the government to add funding treatment for HIV.
“We are appealing for action so that the cost goes down. By the time we started to treat 100 clients in 2002 the monthly cost of ARVS was about UGX 1 million, and when you convert a million that time to the money now its about 3 million. We need pharmaceutical companies and all stakeholders to do whatever it takes to see that the cost is lowered so that they can be accessed by people in low developing countries,” said Lubanga.
Dr Lubanga says that the high prices of materials used in testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS in the county are greatly affecting the efforts put in to fight the spread of the virus, asking the government to subsidize the revenue charges on medical supplies in the country.
He says although they are trying to extend medical services to several parts of the country, they are challenged by the current economic situation in the county which has left several people stuck with what to eat which may affect them from taking their drugs.
He further said that time after time they get threats of cuts of the HIV/AIDS funds by funders asking the government to expedite the process of operationalization of the National Aids Trust Fund, which will be a major boost to the funding of activities to fight HIV/AIDS in the country.
The Fund was established about six years ago but unto now it is not fully implemented. Over 75% of funding for HIV is met by donors.
“That is a big threat if such people pull out we don’t have money for medicines and one of the suggestions was to have a levy on soft drinks and beers and districts to contribute to the fund. We call upon government and other stakeholders to ensure that this is implemented so that we can have more funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Dr. Cecelia Natembo Uganda care Masaka Regional medical director says that a medical camp held in Masaka is a give back to the community as Uganda cares prepares to commemorate 20 years of service in the country.
She says that the medical camp that targeted over 500 people in Masaka offered health services to locals ranging from malaria treatment, HIV/AIDS testing and counselling, cough and flu, and cervical cancer testing among other health services.
Records show that Uganda cares for over years they have tested over 7 million Ugandans, started treatment for over 112000 Ugandans, and distributed over45 million condoms in the country in the past 20 years.