The impact of the international response to Uganda’s any-gay laws is starting to be seen. IRIN estimates that 37% of Uganda’s annual health budget is dependent on development aid from outside. So far, “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,” which represents about half or 20% of the health budget.
IRIN shares the concerns of a senior Ugandan official who explains that, “We have a crisis. The government has been forced to review its priorities and make readjustments as donors have withheld aid. We are seeing stagnation of social services and public investments. The civil servants have not been paid their salaries [in February].” Even AIDS activists are concerned about the humanitarian impact of such suspensions.
While the situation certainly bodes ill for people with AIDS, TB, malaria and other health problems, it more than demonstrates the difficulties when national health and development budgets are dependent on outside resources. World Malaria Day for 2014 continues with the previous theme of investing in malaria. Clearly when countries won’t or can’t direct their own national resources to health, the population will suffer.
Even without the political strings attached to aid, aid is not sustainable in the long run. Industrialized countries, through bilateral and multilateral contributions and their citizens, through NGOs, not only grow fatigued, but also run short of funds.
Uganda is entering the realm of oil producing nations. Hopefully more resources will in fact be available, unless the country follows the example of other oil nations where more oil funds wind up in Swiss banks than in health and social services.
IRIN has been a strong source of news and information for our postings. Please look at the new posting on IRIN’s website concerning its future. “You may have seen some public discussion recently about IRIN’s future, arising most recently from this online petition, an independent initiative launched by a US-based reader last week. In the interest of clarity we are taking this opportunity to let you know ourselves what is happening. Full report.”