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TASO centre in Entebbe struggles to offer services amidst inadequate funding

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The AIDS Support Organization-TASO could suspend its operations due to lack of funds.

Solomon Lubondo, the TASO Centre Advisory Committee chairperson for Entebbe, says that the entire organization has been affected by reduced donor funding since 2017. TASO has eleven centres including Tororo, Gulu, Jinja and Entebbe and receives funds from the Centre for Disease Control-CDC and well-wishers.

The non-government organization was founded in 1987 to offer HIV counselling and medical services to people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

However, in the last four years, Lubondo says the organization has been struggling to operate with the reduced donor funding and heavy reliance on collection from membership fees.

Members pay 2,000 and 5,000 Shillings every year, and yet TASO requires about 140 Billion Shillings annually to cater for over 20,000 clients across Uganda.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Lubondo said that the centre in Entebbe for instance requires about 7 Billion Shillings, to provide services to over 6,000 clients in Wakiso and Mpigi districts.

According to Lubondo, they have been forced to scale down on their operations because of financial constraints. He explains that most centres have stopped certain activities such as training drama groups in sensitizing the communities about HIV/Aids.

Lubondo says it is difficult to serve the needs of the clients who require drug refills, good nutrition, regular checkups and counselling.

In the 2020/2021 financial year, the centre received 1.6 billion from Centres for Disease Control-CDC. This was less than a quarter of the total amount of funds the centre requires for its activities every year.

Dr Samuel Kamoga, the medical services technical lead at TASO Entebbe, says the centre is cash strapped and constrained to cater for clients.

The centre currently caters for a total number of 6,453 clients. 202 of these clients are pregnant and breastfeeding mothers while 278 are children aged between 1 to 18 years.

Jassy Birungi, a resident of Kitooro who supports people living with HIV within Entebbe says that it will be unfortunate if TASO closes its centre in Entebbe.

Birungi says that she has been helping patients restock ARVs and other drugs and also provide food during the first and second lockdown.

She however says that the clients can be transferred to the ART clinic at Entebbe Hospital and also the health centre IIs and IIIs at Nsamizi and Katabi Air force Barracks, Kigungu and Katabi.

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