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New Leadership for HIV/AIDS Initiatives in Greater Masaka

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The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) has assumed control of HIV/AIDS programs previously administered by Rakai Health Sciences Programme (RHSP) in Greater Masaka. This transition occurred after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discontinued its funding for RHSP’s HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment initiatives, which it had supported for several years.

Dr. Andrew Kambugu, the Executive Director of IDI, confirmed this change in an interview, mentioning that some RHSP staff would be retained during the transition. Additionally, a few RHSP employees chose to resign as early as January upon learning of the discontinuation of CDC funding. In June 2023, Mr. Joseph Kagaayi stepped down as the RHSP Executive Director and was succeeded by Dr. Godfrey Kigozi.

Dr. Kambugu also disclosed that CDC would provide $22 million (approximately Shs82.9 billion) during the first year to support IDI’s programs.

In a circular dated September 1, 2023, RHSP informed the 12 beneficiary districts that it would cease its HIV/AIDS project activities effective September 30. Dr. Denis Bbaale Sekavuga, the head of health systems strengthening at RHSP, stated that RHSP would no longer be able to support HIV/AIDS project activities after this date. He added that RHSP would not be liable for any outstanding obligations and advised districts with unresolved liabilities to report them to IDI.

RHSP, previously known as the Rakai Project, was established in 1987 during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The organization played a crucial role in conducting research on HIV/AIDS, providing treatment, and caring for orphans affected by the disease. Over the years, it expanded its network to cover the entire Masaka sub-region and parts of Mpigi, Butambala, and Gomba.

The Masaka sub-region, where Uganda’s first HIV case was identified in 1982, has consistently had the highest HIV prevalence in the country, with prevalence rates of 10.6 percent in 2011, 8.0 percent in 2016, and 8.1 percent in 2020, according to data from three consecutive national HIV/AIDS surveys.