LGBT Ugandans to share in $226 million for health care

Unlike the recent past, LGBT Ugandans will be eligible for health care services funded by newly received grants totaling more than $225 million, says Kikonyogo Kivumbi, who serves on a key Uganda’s health policy panel. On that board, known as the Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism, Kivumbi is the elected representative for LGBT people, sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and intravenous drug users.

Global Fund grant ceremony in Uganda celebrates distribution of $226 million for health care, including services for LGBTI Ugandans.
Global Fund grant ceremony at the Kampala Serena Hotel in Uganda celebrates the distribution of $226 million for health care, including services for LGBTI Ugandans. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (Peter Busomoke photo courtesy of Red Pepper)
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (Peter Busomoke photo courtesy of Red Pepper)

This morning [June 25], I have been privileged to be in the company of Uganda’s prime minister, the Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda; ministers for health and finance; other national leaders; and diplomats in a public signing of five Global Fund grants for Uganda, worth in total US $226,241,454.

The money is for managing HIV/Aids and tuberculosis, health systems strengthening, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and more —  all aligned with Uganda’s current National Strategic Plan for fighting HIV/Aids and the Investment Case.  The Investment Case is a government policy that details an ambitious plan and reasoning why more money must be invested in combating Uganda’s national HIV/Aids pandemic. MSM are mentioned there by name.

I am happy that the removal of policy and legal barriers against LGBT people,  and zero tolerance to discrimination in access to the right to health, are at the center of this intervention.

[In regard to Uganda’s LGBT community,] the public signing of these grants also means that now you know the money is available. Demand to be served. It is a show of transparency and accountability.

On a good note, new HIV infections are declining from over 140,000 to about 90,0000 in new figures due for release shortly.

More must be done, though, to scale up health care access for criminalised and disadvantaged populations.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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