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U.S. suspends some aid to Uganda health ministry over anti-gay law

Friday, March 14, 2014
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KAMPALA, Uganda — The U.S. has suspended some aid to Uganda’s ministry of health, officials said on Thursday, the first such response by the U.S. since the passage of Uganda’s harsh anti-homosexuality law passed last December and signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni February 24.

Uganda

Rebecca Vassie, AP
A newly-diagnosed HIV positive woman, who arrived at a Kampala hospital on Thursday, Feb. 27, with symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), receives treatment at the Mildmay Uganda clinic, which receives funding from the U.S. government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. has previously signaled that the new law, which punishes gay sex with up to life in prison, would “complicate” its relations with the east African nation.

“As a result of this review process, a portion of the U.S. Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC) cooperative agreement with the Ministry of Health has been put on hold pending this review,” a senior U.S. government official told Reuters on Thursday.

The U.S. official did not say how much aid was withheld but added the CDC had spent $3.9 million on a ministry of health program last year.

Uganda’s Daily Monitor reported Thursday that more than 80 Ugandan health professionals were “rendered jobless after the U.S. government in an expression of its displeasure over the Anti-Homosexuality law, suspended financing agreement for a project employing them.”

The 87 employees had just been re-hired last month on HIV-related programs, according to Uganda Ministry of Health Secretary Asuman Lukwago.

U.S. government estimates its total assistance to Uganda stood at about $723 million in 2013. About half a million Ugandans with HIV or AIDS receive help through U.S. programs.

Since the law was enacted, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands and Sweden all since withheld or re-routed millions of dollars in support to Uganda, and the World Bank has stalled a $90 million loan to bolster Uganda’s healthcare system.

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