Monday, August 29, 2005

Global Fund Cancels Uganda's AID Funding...Could It Be Because Uganda's abstinence Approach Is Working?

Cheat-Seeking Missiles has a series of posts here, here and here in response to last Thursday's announcement by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that it had cancelled all grant funding for Uganda, due to a discrepancy in accounting after grant dollars had been converted to Ugandan currency.

What is ironic in all of this is that Uganda has had more success in reducing the incidence of AIDS in their population than any other African nation.

Also ironic is the fact that Uganda has taken an approach to the AIDS epidemic that is contrary to the policies of the United Nations, the Global Fund and every other participating country in Africa. What is so unique about Uganda's approach? It has declared that Abstinence, self-control and the instilling of a responsible national sexual morality is key to any long-range strategy to reduce the epidemic.

Every other agency and nation puts their priority on "safe sex" education and the massive distribution of condoms. The obvious fallacy in this way of approaching the problem is that AIDS is primarily spread through frequent sexual activity among multiple partners. The number one guaranteed way to reduce the spread of AIDS would be to.....ta dah!...reduce the amount of polygamous sexual activity, right? According to the international community, apparently, that is the wrong answer.

The correct answer is....ta dah!...condoms! Yep. Condoms. Safe sex is the answer! And apparently Uganda has been taken to task for failing to adhere to the politically correct approach to the AIDS situation.

The fact that their approach is works does not, it seems, make others happy. It appears, if fact, to have made some very influential people very angry.

Cheat-Seeking Missiles "theorize(s) that the true cause for the suspension is pressure from anti-abstinence, (anti-)morality and (anti-)monogamy groups like George Soros' Human Rights Watch, which said:
Human Rights Watch accused[Ugandan] President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, Janet Museveni, of falling under the influence of U.S. Christian conservatives and placing millions of young Ugandans at risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Image hosted by"Risk?" Take a look at this chart, showing that the rate of AIDS has been reduced from 30% in 1990 to 8% in 2002.

Unconvinced? Here, taken from "Cheat's" site is the Global Fund's own assessment in their own words from a 2003 news release showing the success of their grant program:
Uganda, one of first countries in Africa to experience the impact of HIV/AIDS and still one of the countries most affected by the virus, is also one of the continent's great success stories in terms of reducing high HIV infection rates. HIV prevalence among pregnant women in urban areas has declined from a peak of 30 per cent in 1992 to 6 per cent in 2001. This and other successes in the field are widely acknowledged to be the result of high-level political commitment to HIV prevention and care, involving a wide range of partners and effected through an aggressive anti-HIV/AIDS campaign involving virtually all sections of society. Nevertheless, Uganda is still confronted with a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic, including rising numbers of people needing care and support.
Compare Uganda's success performance with what is going on in many of Uganda's neighbors which follow the UN/Global Fund protocols of "safe sex" education:
Very high HIV prevalence, often exceeding 30% among pregnant women is still being recorded in four other countries in the region, all with small populations: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. There, comparisons of prevalence levels at selected antenatal clinics have shown no evidence of a decline. In Swaziland, for example, HIV prevalence among pregnant women was 39% in 2002, up from 34% in 2000 and only 4% in 1992. Elsewhere in the subregion, HIV infections in pregnant women appear to be stabilizing at lower levels; around 18% in Malawi (2003), 16% in Zambia (2003), and 25% in Zimbabwe (2003); but there is little evidence of an impending decline. (source)
Now, of course it may be true that money destined for Uganda's AIDS program is unaccounted for. But this allegation has not even been proven yet.

Other nations supported by the Global Fund, such as South Africa, have also had "accoundiscrepanciesncies." But South Africa's funding has not been cut off. On the contrary, the Global Fund has been working with them for over three years to return them to full compliance.

As insult to injury, not only did the Global Fund cut off Uganda's AIDS grants, but also grants for their tuberculosis and malaria programs as well. Even though there is no evidence of any of that money being misused. This action is unprecedented in the Global Fund's history.

According to their own site, the Global Fund's largest contributor is the United States. It is even more ironic, therefore, that the Bush administration has touted Uganda's "abstinence first" program as a model for the rest of African and, indeed, for the world.

Note that Uganda does distribute condoms and does provide education on how the disease is spread and how "safe sex" can reduce its spread. Somehow, it is the idea of abstinence and personal self-control that sticks in the craw of the funding elite. Perhaps the thinking goes like this:
"Does it sound like morality? Then it must be Christian. If it's Christian then it must be fundamentalist Christianity. It may also have Republican support which means it does not play well with Democrats must be wrong!"
Also of interest is that Islamic countries, which have, by law, strict penalties and cultural restrictions on "free sex" also have the lowest rate of AIDS in the world. But it isn't politically correct to say, either!
Perhaps the United Nations and the Global Fund can be pressured by the Bush administration to reconsider this matter. Much of it is, of course, our money to begin with. If they cannot distributed it in a way that encourages success, then perhaps the United States should find a new way to distribute the money.