HEPS-Uganda is currently implementing a project aimed at increasing access to HIV/AIDS treatment . The project dubbed “Promoting Increased Access to Essential HIV/AIDS Medicine and Diagnostics for poor people in Uganda “ is funded by HIVOS – a Dutch humanitarian organisation.
Launched on July 1 2009, the two-and-half year contract will end on December 31, 2011. The project has consolidated efforts by the Uganda Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines (UCAEM) to campaign for increased access to HIV/AIDS treatment.
The overall goal of the project, however, is to strengthen UCAEM to be able to positively influence the development and implementation of HIV/AIDS policies and programmes to increase access to essential HIV/AIDS care and prevention interventions by poor people in Uganda.
Specifically, the project; (a) monitors the implementation of HIV/AIDS medicines programmes and interventions in Uganda in order to increase transparency and accountability for improved access by people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, (b) influences the design of HIV/AIDS policies and programmes in order to protect the rights of people infected/affected and are at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in Uganda and; (c) continues to host and coordinate the coalition.
The project is building on the earlier coalition work that was supported by HIVOS in 2008 and will focus on increasing transparency in procurement, management and budget allocation of HIV/AIDS medicine and diagnostics and provide feedback on medicine access situation in the country from the consumer perspective.
It is expected that this project will contribute to efforts by government of Uganda to realise the goal of achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and other interventions by increasing CSO participation at different levels of decision-making.
Specific activities for the project include continuous monitoring of HIV/TB medicines and diagnostics, tracking HIV/AIDS funds, review of policies that have an impact on HIV/AIDS and lobby policy-markers for improved change.
Other project activities include; carrying out public health campaigns in three regions of Uganda , namely Central (Kampala ), Northern (Lira) and Western (Mbarara). It is expected that this activity will increase public awareness about gaps in the management and implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes and will empower them to demand for improved change from political candidates seeking for votes in the up-coming elections.
HEPS-Uganda coordinates the project through UCAEM and has provided a secretariat for the coalition for coordination and communication purposes.
It also ensures that coalition meetings such as the quarterly working group meetings and annual coalition meetings are held. HEPS regularly updates coalition members on the progress of the project activities and relevant health issues in Ugandan newspapers. This is done through regular weekly health news summaries, HEPS-Uganda quarterly newsletter and project progress reports.