Uganda implements tax on drinks to raise funds for HIV treatment

Uganda implements tax on drinks to raise funds for HIV treatment

A two per cent tax levied on alcohol and soft drinks will be used to internally raise funds for HIV treatment, a move officials hope will reduce Uganda’s reliance on international donors and organisations. The government believes $2.5 million a year will be generated from the tax collected from drinks, including beer, spirits and waragi, a local liquor, which will be channelled into the new HIV and Aids trust fund (ATF).

This concept was originally included in the HIV Prevention and Control Act that was passed in 2014, but progress has been slow in terms of finalising regulations as to how the fund would operate. Those regulations have recently been passed.

Health Minister Sarah Achieng Opendi said that the tax is an innovative and catalytic step towards increasing the government’s resources:

“We are happy that finally parliament has approved these regulations [for the fund]. What informed this decision was that [our] HIV response programme is being heavily funded by partners and the international community. The idea was that this is not sustainable.”

According to the ministry of health, at least 1.4 million people are living with HIV in Uganda, with children and women disproportionately affected. Activists fear that the number of people living with HIV could be around 1.6 million, as many people who are HIV positive are not receiving treatment.

According to an article by the Guardian, at least 68% of Uganda’s HIV funding comes from donors and 20% from people living with HIV and their families. Only 11% of funding comes from the government and 1% from the private sector.

Opendi added:

“We need to have locally generated revenue to deal with the HIV challenge in the country. In the event that there is reduced funding from the international community, we can be able to sustain our own interventions.”

The AIDF Africa Summit will return to Nairobi in February 2019.

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Photo Credit: dpa/Alamy

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