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Miller-McCune Examines Debate Over Redistribution Of Some Foreign Aid Funds From HIV/AIDS To Other Diseases

Through the lens of health conditions faced by people in Mbarara, Uganda, Miller-McCune examines the debate over redistributing some foreign aid funds from HIV/AIDS to fight other diseases.

“Mbarara and the region around it have frighteningly high death rates, especially among mothers and children,” the magazine writes. “Meager medical services and high levels of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and numerous other killers mean that young children in western Uganda are about 25 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than in the U.S.”

The article tracks the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda from “an early hot spot in Africa’s horrific AIDS disaster” in the 1980s to “a poster child among international AIDS campaigners,” thanks, in part, to efforts made by the Ugandan government to educate the public about HIV prevention.

“Partly as a result, in recent years, Ugandan AIDS programs have benefited from international assistance on a huge scale,” the magazine writes. “And thanks to that, health workers and activists living in even remote quarters of the country … have now begun to think that other health problems – especially the handful of easily preventable diseases responsible for killing roughly four times as many Ugandans as AIDS – also require urgent attention from wealthy international donors.” The article reflects on how the benefits of foreign funding have contributed to a disparity between two laboratories in Mbarara – one backed by funds from donors, the other supported by the region’s hospital.

The piece notes the history of PEPFAR’s success in improving access to HIV prevention and care throughout the world, before noting the recent movement to “rebalance international health care assistance to include formerly neglected killers alongside HIV/AIDS are gathering momentum,” including President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative and the G8’s current focus on maternal and child health.

The article includes comments by Stephen Lewis, former U.N. secretary general special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; Jerome Kabakyenga, former dean of medicine at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology in western Uganda; and a village health coordinator in Uganda (Webster, 6/21).