Briefing: Punitive aid cuts disrupts healthcare in Uganda

Published: April 2, 2014

 KAMPALA, 2 April 2014 (IRIN) – Since the enactment of a draconian anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda just over a month ago, donors have been slashing or suspending aid to the country in protest. Health officials, activists and NGOs warn that this could have a major impact on healthcare services, particularly for HIV/AIDS patients. 

 
 Project and budget support worth about US$140 million has been suspended or redirected by the World Bank, US and several European countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the act into law on 24 February 2014. 
 
 Under the new law, persons found guilty of “homosexual acts” can be jailed for up to 14 years, and up to a life sentence for “aggravated” cases, such as those committed by someone who is HIV-positive, or those involving minors, the disabled and serious offenders. 
 
 Publicly, the government has appeared unfazed by the donor cuts, with President Museveni speaking at a “thanksgiving” parade to celebrate the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) organized by religious leaders on 31 March and describing donor cuts at “contemptuous”. 
 
But privately a senior government official told IRIN that the consequences have been “dire.”
 
 “We have a crisis. The government has been forced to review its priorities and make readjustments as donors have withheld aid,” the official said. “We are seeing stagnation of social services and public investments. The civil servants have not been paid their salaries [in February].”
 
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