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U.S. pledges support to fight increasing HIV/AIDS incidence

By Angella Abushedde

The US government says it will continue funding the health sector. Director of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr Thomas Freiden who was in the country for a four-day tour of the US Mission health projects said that the US government was committed to tackling the rising HIV incidence in Uganda which has endangered the country’s health system.

He called upon the government to step up its commitment of achieving an HIV/AIDS free generation.

“On behalf of the US government, I would like assure Ugandans that we will not abandon them, we are here to support Uganda,” he said.

Dr Freiden was speaking at the second open day event held by Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) at its Entebbe campus on July 18.

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda the Minister of Health who was the chief guest, noted that as a result of both basic and applied research, science and technology, UVRI has continued to improve the lives of Ugandans in the field of medicine, agriculture, engineering and many more areas.

“In the ministry of health, science continues to be instrumental in the discoveries of treatment for diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, in vaccine and drug development, clinical trials, field surveys and many other areas,” he said.

He further said that it was unfortunate that Uganda still has a weak science culture and called upon UVRI and universities to register all scientists and students pursuing science courses in these universities so that government would plan for them.

Since 1991, CDC has contributed nearly $ 1 billion to deliver evidence –based and quality health services by through strong partnerships with the ministry of health. As part of the United States Mission to Uganda, CDC has steadfastly contributed to implementing strategies for harnessing US government health resources to respond to HIV/AIDS, prevent and control infectious disease such as malaria, tuberculosis, plague, Ebola and Marburg through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), polio eradication, the Saving Mothers, Giving Life program and health security.

Dr Freiden applauded UVRI for the progress it has achieved in enabling Uganda ensure disease and outbreak control. He also presented UVRI director Edward Katongole Mbidde with an award for their commitment to science and research in the country.

Accepting the award, Katongole noted that UVRI’s success must be shared with a number of governmental agencies, the  ministry of health, educational institutions and health resource providers such as CDC that have stepped up to the task of translating research into action and saving more lives at a lesser cost.

In 2012 alone, CDC-Uganda supported the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to more than 228000, care for 400000 HIV-infected individuals; safe make circumcision services to 134000 adult males; counseling and testing to more than 12 million adults and 725000 pregnant women; and prophylaxis to 49000 pregnant women to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

The event which was held under the theme, “Science and You” was aimed at promoting science to young people in secondary school and university. It was attended among others by the American Ambassador Scott DeLisi, CDC Country Director Tadesse Wuhib, over 38 secondary schools, officials from the ministry of health and The AIDS Support Organization (TASO).

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