Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Calls for increased domestic financing of HIV response in the Caribbean

Published:Wednesday | May 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM
“If we are to ensure sustainability of the regional response and for ending AIDS, many countries in the region have to do more to make AIDS and health a financial priority” – Nicolette Henry
Ivan Cruickshank
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The executive director of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Ivan Cruickshank, is supporting the call by Nicolette Henry, minister of education, Republic of Guyana, and chair, PANCAP regional coordinating for increased domestic financing of the HIV response in the region.

Cruickshank's support came during a recent joint regional dialogue with faith leaders, parliamentarians, civil society leaders, national AIDS programme managers and youth leaders meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

The regional dialogue was hosted by the Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean's response to the HIV epidemic.

The meeting came two years ahead of the 2020 deadline for reaching the 90-90-90 targets - 90 per cent of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90 per cent of diagnosed people on treatment, and 90 per cent of those on treatment virally suppressed.

STAKEHOLDERS' COLLABORATION CRITICAL

According to Henry, "if we are to ensure sustainability of the regional response and for ending AIDS, many countries in the region have to do more to make AIDS and health a financial priority."

She also noted that "sustainability is not just about resources. It is also about ensuring that our responses are the most effective, based on science and epidemiology, and targeting those most in need. Sustainability is also about partnership."

Cruickshank viewed the minister's comments as timely and pointed that, "given the shift in international funding support across the region, it is critical that stakeholders collaborate to support HIV programmes across the region."

He also said, "it is important that partnerships be built, and these should include not only government and CSOs but also faith-based actors."

... Five critical areas were addressed

Director of Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Dereck Springer, has stated that the recent regional joint meeting in Trinidad and Tobago sought to affirm the work done in response to HIV by stakeholder groups and individual organisations across the region.

The five thematic areas discussed were:

1. Access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services including adolescents' access;

2. Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV);

3. Access to justice and redress

4. Gender-inclusive policies and laws; and

5. Comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

He further stated, "We must now build upon these outcomes by facilitating the collaboration and partnership of our five stakeholder groups to take collective action to end AIDS by 2030."

The meeting is aimed at moving stakeholders beyond information sharing and sensitisation to discussing and agreeing on mechanisms or strategies for effecting harmonised and sustainable partnerships and collaboration between all stakeholder groups at the organisational, national, regional and international levels for ending AIDS.

Ayanna Webster-Roy, minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago, holding the portfolios of Gender and Child Affairs, Ecclesiastical Affairs and Central Administration Services. Webster-Roy also challenged participants to examine national and regional issues and goals.

He urged them to take into consideration the targets established by the United Nations High Level Meeting Political Declaration, June 2016, on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals approved by 192 nations at the United Nations in September 2015, and the commitments made by civil society, faith-based and other implementing stakeholder groups for ending AIDS.