Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Professor's testimony threatened foreign funding

Published:Monday | May 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I refer to Gordon Robinson's contribution titled 'Caving in to lobby hijackers' published in The Gleaner of May 21, 2014.

One hesitates to enter the lists against my friend Gordon, armoured as he is with wit, knowledge and intelligence. However, I will present what I believe to be three facts, and then I will ask two questions which I hope Gordon will answer. First, the facts:

1. Since the launch of USAID's HIV/AIDS programme in 1986, the agency has been on the forefront of the global AIDS crisis.

2. That agency's position is the same as that expressed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2009: "Shine the full light of human rights on HIV. I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies, and practices that hamper the AIDS response. In many countries, legal frameworks institutionalise discrimination against groups most at risk. Yet, discrimination against sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men only fuels the epidemic and prevents cost-effective interventions. We must ensure that AIDS responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected."

3. The Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Centre is funded primarily by overseas agencies: USAID, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Health Resources & Services Administration, Global AIDS Programme, and the Global Fund.

Now, my two questions: Was the expressed opinion of CHART's head, Professor Bain, in consonance with the stated position of that organisation's funders? If it was not so consonant, and in the face of very strident opinion expressed by a large number of organisations which CHART is mandated to assist, is it not the prime duty of the UWI to ensure that there is not the slightest possibility that the funding of CHART, this most critically important organisation in the Caribbean's fight against AIDS, be in any way compromised?

JEFFREY C. COBHAM

jeffreycobham@gmail.com