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close this bookSafe Blood in Developing Countries - The Lessons from Uganda (EC, 1995, 151 p.)
close this folderSection Two - Background: Uganda's history, health, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic
close this folderChapter Three - AIDS in Uganda: A glimmer of hope?
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentExtent of aids in Uganda
View the documentMobilising to deal with HIV/AIDS
View the documentThe evidence for 'a glimmer of hope'
View the documentVoluntary mass HIV testing as a route to behaviour change

Mobilising to deal with HIV/AIDS

What clearly distinguished Uganda from other African countries, where the existence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic was for some time denied or hushed up for fear of damage to the tourist trade, or out of pride and distaste, was that Uganda and its President swiftly and publicly acknowledged the presence and extent of HIV/AIDS, and invited outside help both in rebuilding the health system of the country, and in particular in mobilising efforts against HIV/AIDS. In 1987, the Uganda AIDS Control Programme (ACP) was set up within the Ministry of Health. Later, in 1991, an independent Uganda AIDS Commission was set up, with financial aid from the World Bank group, which had early on become involved in the rehabilitation of Uganda's health services. As an emergency response to the country's health problems, the IDA (International Development Association, part of the World Bank group) in 1988 launched the First Health Project, an ambitious programme to help restore health services in Uganda. The First Health Project encountered severe problems, principally over accountability for money spent, but it was a start. By 1990, external aid including aid from the EC accounted for almost half of Uganda's total health expenditure, against 20 per cent for the general run of sub-Saharan countries, and stood at about US$ 2.8 per head of the population, thus emphasising both the low level of national health expenditure and the dependence on foreign help.

HIV infection rates (%): among antenatal attenders at selected sites

The Nakasero computer records system

The First Health Project had several components, one of which was AIDS control. Within that, there was an element for blood transfusion, and along with the 1988 IDA loan there was a grant of about US$ 600,000 from SIDA (the Swedish aid agency) for help with the rehabilitation of the blood transfusion service. Part of the money was spent on training, and about half of it was spent on buying Elisa readers, refrigerators and other equipment, including vehicles. These were distributed to 12 district blood transfusion units outside Kampala. Later, these district facilities were put under the same administration as the Kampala blood bank, so contributing to today's national integrated blood transfusion service.