Gee thanks, Dubya–FOR NOTHING. Love, Uganda.


A typical USAID-sponsored anti-AIDS ad in Uganda; it tackles sex, not ignorance, and certainly not microbes. This is the “miracle” that was touted so highly just a few years ago. Now look how it’s falling apart

Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.

The last decade has been what some doctors call a “golden window” for treatment. Drugs that once cost $12,000 a year fell to less than $100, and the world was willing to pay.

In Uganda, where fewer than 10,000 were on drugs a decade ago, nearly 200,000 now are, largely as a result of American generosity. But the golden window is closing.

Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

The collapse was set off by the global recession’s effect on donors, and by a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases. Even as the number of people infected by AIDS grows by a million a year, money for treatment has stopped growing.

So much for global capitalism and all its miracles. So much for “letting the market take care of it”! The market hasn’t taken care of squat, since it was government money, not the market, that financed the only thing that’s staved off a massive die-off–by providing condoms and drugs.

Then, in 2008, just as Dubya’s reign of terrorism was drawing to a close, so was his experiment in unregulated capitalism. The markets collapsed, and with them, funding for AIDS drugs in the Third World. Now that governmental belt-tightening is in vogue, expect that massive die-off to start at any time. So, thanks for nothing, Invisible Hand of the Deregulated Market. Some fucking miracle YOU made!

And here’s another nothing to thank Dubya for. Even as the markets were being deregulated, hyper-regulation of human behavior was in vogue. Look how that panned out:

And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the “ABC” approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms.

Remember that? It was touted out the wazoo just a few short years ago. Here, let me refresh your memory:

After all, it was the ABC approach and a policy of openness inspired by President Yoweri Museveni which helped Uganda perform well in the fight against HIV/Aids compared to other countries.

Many African governments have fared miserably in attempting to counter the HIV pandemic, with devastating consequences.

By comparison, Uganda has performed well in bringing down the HIV prevalence to around 6%. In many parts of the country, it was at least three times as high during the early 1990s.

Alas, that useful message was already being diluted in favor of abstinence (at guess-whose behest):

Until a few months ago, a free magazine promoting safe sex was distributed to secondary schools by a non-profit organisation.

But this recently became controversial and faith-based organisations were concerned the magazine was encouraging sex.

As a result, the magazine has been ditched, and that avenue for getting the safe sex message to the students has now gone.

The head of guidance and counselling at Kitante Hill school, Samuel Along, is concerned that the safe sex message is not getting through.

“I have seen students at the school pairing up. They come and talk to me and I begin realising they have sexually transmitted diseases. And if we have been insisting on abstinence, don’t you think there is a very good possibility they have not used a condom?”

I’d say it was virtually inevitable. The abstinence message is “condoms don’t work, so don’t bother; just don’t have sex!” But how realistic is that in a poor country like Uganda, where prostitution is the only way for so many women (and girls) to make a living?

And let’s not rule out a lack of education; a lot of people who don’t even know what the word “sex” means, are having it. Unsafely, of course. For a living. And their survival job is killing them.

This is a respectable secondary school in the Ugandan capital where there is good access to information.

But the majority of young Ugandans do not make it beyond primary school and in a country where most people live on less than $1 a day, the link between poverty and sex is strong.

Rogers Kasirye works in the slums of Kampala with street children and teenage prostitutes. Poverty has forced many of them into taking risks.

“It is an economic problem. Many of the young people we are working with are surviving on sex, and the only option or barrier they have is the condom.”

Naturally, condoms were the first thing that hit the chopping block when Dubya decided to push his fundamentalist anti-sex agenda:

Whilst churches are pushing the abstinence message, not all religious leaders are happy with President Bush.

Reverend Gideon Byamugisha is HIV-positive and he hopes the US will carefully assess the way in which it influences policy in Uganda.

“We are still hopeful that America, being a strong and well-meaning country, will not go down in history as a country which exported ideas at the expense of people’s free will to choose.”

Unfortunately, five years later, we know the answer. And it is not what the good Reverend had hoped…

Earlier this week the popular American religious fundamentalist Lou Engle took the stage in front of over 1,300 people at Makerere University in Uganda. He was speaking in the country as the organizer of TheCall Uganda, an event billed as “a gathering of fasting and prayer to confess our personal and national sins.”

In reality, the event was a rabid defense of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks to make being gay a capital crime.

Engle’s organization TheCall — which first gained national and worldwide fame as one of the loudest proponents of California’s Prop 8 — denied knowing anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it was first invited to Uganda. Engle even issued a press release before his event promising that he wouldn’t promote the measure on the stage.

Of course, that was a lie. And the Ugandans fell for it, hook, line and sinker:

Pastor John Mulinde of Trumpet Church, in his prayer, condemned evils in society done by both homosexuals and heterosexuals. He emphasized that homosexuality is in schools, families, and the entire community. He also pointed out that many children are being deceived with school fees from homosexuals and recruit them into the act.

Pastor Lou Engle from America noted that he didn’t know by the time of his invitation to Uganda that there was a homosexuality bill. He went ahead to emphasize t
hat it is the Western World using non-government organizations to promote homosexuality. He warned the youth in the crowd that when America allowed homosexuals freedom it was the end of their nation.

He [Engle] called upon the government of Uganda to be firm and hold on its righteous stand against the evil. He mentioned that homosexuals have penetrated the educational system and Ugandans must be aware of the evil. He also lectured about how God planned marriage only between man and woman and that marriage is for procreation.

Honorable Minister of Ethics Nsaba Buturu was worse. He spoke out against homosexuality, saying that for those who think it’s a human right issue ‘Uganda cannot listen to that nonsense.’ He asked the audience to pray for president Museveni and his government to maintain their firms stand against evil in our society.

Pastor Mulinde then called his fellow pastor to come forward and pray for Buturo and Bahati and the government to continue with their crusade against homosexuality.

US faith-based “aid” in action. See how well that works? While they pray…and prey…people are gonna die either way.

Uganda’s efforts against HIV/AIDS were successful as long as A (abstinence) and B (being faithful) were buttressed by C (condoms). When Plan C was axed, A and B also fell apart. And Kill-the-Gays isn’t going to work any better, given that the vast majority of Ugandan AIDS cases are the result of heterosexual intercourse.

But hey. Between death by homophobia and death by bean counting, I’m sure they’ll have that crisis licked in no time…

According to the Uganda AIDS Commission, the lifetime bill for treating one Ugandan AIDS patient, counting drugs, tests and medical salaries, is $11,500.

Donors have decided that is too much, that more lives can be saved by concentrating on child-killers like stillbirth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and tetanus. Cures for those killers, like antibiotics, mosquito nets, rehydration salts, water filters, shots and deworming pills, cost $1 to $10.

Under its new Global Health Initiative, the Obama administration has announced plans to shift its focus to mother-and-child health. The AIDS budget was increased by only 2 percent.

The British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also said they would focus support on mother-child health.

…if only because one way or another, all the victims will be dead. Because new replacements are constantly being born, and they’re cheaper too. And scratching a hole in the ground for the corpses is the cheapest “solution” of all.


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