Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finger Pointing In Uganda

In the wake of the loss of $201 million in grants to fight AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, fingers are pointing everywhere in Kampala, Uganda's captial.

The Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) called for the government to force Minister of Health Jim Muhwezi and his Permanent Secretary Mohammed Kezaala to resign, saying mismanagement and favortism were involved in setting up the Project Management Unit (PMU) that runs the grants.

Muhwezi says the Finance Ministry is the culprit, because it received the funds,w hich his PMU only distributed to support the various health programs.

Muhwezi also said the Global Fund's decision caught his team completely by surprize, underscoring Cheat-Seeking Missile's contention that Uganda is being singled out for its approach of pushing abstinence and monogamy over free sex and rubbers. Other countries, notably South Africa, have been given years to work out problems.

South Africa, which has an infection rate five times greater than Uganda's, follows the PC free sex and rubbers approach.

The issue is highly politicized in Uganda, with some Kampali op/ed columns blaming Bush and calling for a reinstitution of condom-first AIDS fighting. In fact, these forces are going to stage a demonstration at Uganda House in New York tomorrow as part of their "Release the Condoms" campaign.

Condom Shortage

In this march and in coverage like this article, from Guardian Unlimited, you will hear the Ugandan campaign described as if it did not allow condoms at all. This is not true. State Minister for Health Mike Makala said yesterday:
We have enough condoms. We just procured 65 million condoms about two months ago and another 80 million is on the way, so there is no shortage of condoms in the country.
Bottom line for this morning:

I'm trying to get a read on a country that is a world away from me. I'm only beginning to get a feel for the limited media that are available to me, and I'm not yet sure what kind of controls, if any, the government has at its disposal. Even so, it is evident that the punishment exceeded the crime here.

If the Global Fund's worst fears of mismanagement do prove to be true, they still cannot ignore Uganda's success in cutting infection rates. They cannot ignore the corruption that abounds in many of the countries they serve.

Normally, it appears they work hard to find a balance between providing funds and demanding more accountability. In this case, and only in this case, they did not. I remain convinced opposition to Christian morality remains at the bottom of this issue.

Here's a question the Global Fund could answer that would help clarify this issue: Is the Fund investigating any other governments the way they investigated Uganda?

See also:
Ugandan AIDS Cut Unprecedented
Uganda AIDS Cut More Suspicious
Uganda Punished for Abstinence?