Feature story

UNAIDS Executive Director urges Uganda to do more domestically

09 January 2020

The new Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, has visited the country of her birth, Uganda, on a working visit.

During her meeting with the Minister of the Presidency, Esther Mbayo, she commended the efforts of the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, in the response to HIV. She highlighted the US$ 7 billion funding gap in the global AIDS response, saying more needs to be done domestically. “Today, Uganda has 93% of the AIDS response funded externally,” she said. “Our friends are the ones keeping us alive, but we cannot depend on them forever.”

She added that many African countries, including Uganda, will soon become middle-income economies and therefore will receive less international aid. Throughout the day she reiterated the same message to United Nations staff, stakeholders and partners―find ways to overcome stagnating levels of funding and reduce financial waste, inefficiencies and corruption.

Ms Byanyima also emphasized the need to focus on women and girls in Africa. “More needs to be done to rectify gender inequalities and end gender-based violence,” she said.

In eastern and southern Africa, girls and young women are two times more likely to acquire HIV than their male counterparts. In Uganda, overall HIV prevalence stands at 5.7% and 34% of new infections are among young people aged 15–24 years.

She also noted that Uganda should not waiver in protecting the human rights of everyone, and should drop the current law on same-sex sexual relationships. She said that governments should not discriminate, saying that gay men and other men who have sex with men and sex workers should not be denied access to health care.

During a meeting with civil society, Ms Byanyima encouraged them to speak up, telling them “You are the voice of citizens and you should hold government and others accountable.”