Mugyenyi: Stagnating PEPFAR Funding A Recipe for Chaos

Dr. Peter Mugyenyi told a full house at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that funding constraints are forcing health clinics in Uganda to stop enrolling any new patients in antiretroviral treatment.

 Peter Mugyenyi, MD, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Peter Mugyenyi, MD, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

At his first event in Washington, the pioneering Ugandan AIDS doctor Peter Mugyenyi painted a harrowing picture of what lies ahead in Uganda without increased support from PEPFAR.

After urging people to get tested and enter care, we now have to tell them there is no treatment available when they need it. We created hope and now we are returning to the days when one member of a family can get treatment and the others cannot.It is a recipe for chaos as patients start to share doses or skip treatment altogether. I fear that we will soon start to see more drug-resistant strains of HIV and rising death rates.

Though Congress authorized significant increases when it reauthorized PEPFAR last year, those increases did not make it into budget this year. Funding stayed flat. Without new funds, clinics are now being forced to cap their patients.

Later, Dr. Mugyenyi told us of his euphoria when President Bush signed the new PEPFAR legislation; Dr. Mugyenyi was actually at the White House for the bill signing last year. Now that no additional funds are flowing, that euphoria has faded.

Dr. Mugyenyi spoke of the extreme sense of urgency among those, like his own Joint Clinical Research Centre, which built large, treatment programs with high success rates. Those clinics are now being forced to turn away patients. "We cannot return to the days when funerals defined our existence. This situation is untenable."

Next it's on to Capitol Hill, where Dr. Mugyenyi will carry his urgent message to key lawmakers who are about to begin considering next year's budget.Watch for more updates later this week.

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