The Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Alliance Uganda, first of all, congratulates the new President and Vice President upon election into office in the recently concluded US elections; we in a special way applaud the executive action taken by the US President, His Excellency Joe Biden to repeal the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule (GGR) on Thursday 28th January 2021. The rule forced organizations to choose whether to provide sexual and reproductive health care and education without U.S. funding or comply with the policy in order to continue accessing U.S. funds. This decision rekindles the hope of reaching more people with sexual and reproductive health information, education, and care.
Uganda is one of the largest recipients of U.S. global health aid, particularly funding for family planning, maternal health, and HIV/AIDS among others. This was significantly impacted by the former President Donald Trump administration policy entitled “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” This resulted in the loss of funding for many indigenous and international organizations which affected health service delivery due to the discontinuation of several programs. The policy not only undermined the effectiveness and efficiency of investments in global health, but also caused rollback in progress made in improving health outcomes for women, girls, refugees, and the general communities in Uganda.
Given that Uganda has one of the youngest and yet rapidly growing populations, the country’s health needs are immense. The Global Gag Rule was imposed at a time when Uganda had made significant progress on the reduction of sexual reproductive health and rights-related issues like teenage pregnancies, maternal and newborn child deaths, HIV prevention among others. The policy had created fear of reversals in the trends of SRHR related indicators that had earlier been improved over the last decades. This repeal is therefore a welcome action at such a time where COVID-19 has also exacerbated more SRHR related issues affecting young people and women’s health. We hope to now see an increase in funding for sexual reproductive health and rights related interventions.
The SRHR Alliance Uganda and its partners stand in solidarity with the various global health communities, therefore calls for continued US government commitment to undo the damage done by the policy, including immediate communication about the repeal, increased funding towards SRHR and proactive outreach to ensure partners who declined US funding while the GGR was in place are brought back to Global Health funding.