Thursday, 24 January 2013

Regional efforts to combat HIV/AIDS moving ahead

The Caribbean has approached the problems related to HIV/AIDS in a collective way.

This is the opinion expressed by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Edward Greene.

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for
HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Edward Greene.
“I believe that the region has good support from critical agencies; in particular the UN system, UNAIDS and from the US government through PEPFAR. They have seen it fit to invest in a programme – the regional programme because they think that by investing in the regional public good, they can help to advance,” he acknowledged during a recent interview on the current HIV/AIDS situation in the Caribbean.

Greene also shared that he believes a good political will has been displayed by heads of government and from Ministerial Level interventions.

“In fact, the Ministers of Health have collectively written to the Global Fund asking for a change of the conditionalities which really erodes the access of Caribbean countries – middle-income countries to funds,” he revealed.

According to him, trends are showing some marked improvements in the Caribbean’s response to the disease.

“For example, the 2012 UN report on HIV/AIDS showed how markedly important we had addressed the issues and how we had achieved so well over the last 10 years. So for example, 50 per cent reduction in the number of people dying from AIDS; 70 per cent increase in the number of people who are on anti-retroviral drugs, as well as 80 per cent of reductions in mother-to-child transmission which really puts us on par with of the developing countries,” Greene stated.

He further pointed out that over the past 10 years, according to the UN report, the Caribbean has achieved much but it is important to state that there is no need for complacency.

“This is because we are suffering from a cutback in financial resources from both multilateral and bilateral sources based on the fact that the Caribbean countries are considered to be middle income countries and the global fund has specific conditionalities for attributing, which means that middle income countries like the Caribbean are not necessarily favoured with conditional and concessional grants.

“However, what we are doing is trying to ensure that countries in the Caribbean finance their programmes out of their budgets and there is the Pan Caribbean partnership that has been tremendous –  bringing together governments, businesses as well as NGO’s and development partners with a strategic plan that helps to mobilise resources,” Greene added. (TL)

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