CARICOM Urged to Cooperate to Fill HIV/AIDS Funding Gap


Against the background of a decline in grants funding for the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Grenada’s Minister of Health and Chair of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) of PANCAP, Senator the Hon Ann Peters, wants Caribbean nations to assert their toughness and collectively work for a resolution to the problem.
She mentioned the global financial crisis, coupled with new eligibility criteria being used by development agencies in their allocation of resources, which severely disadvantage middle income regions such as the Caribbean, as contributing to the creeping financial vulnerability of institutions like PANCAP.
“I cite these financial challenges not as a cry of despair or a bleating of helplessness or hopelessness, rather I do so to make the case for the Caribbean to once again assert its own toughness and to reach deep within its collective core to find the answers,” she explained.
Senator Peters said that it is part of the region’s legacy to triumph over adversity, “and we must once again demonstrate our resilience in this period of global financial uncertainty.”
She was speaking on Thursday (September 9) at the official opening of the 15th ordinary meeting of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism of PANCAP, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, in Montego Bay. The meeting ends Friday (September 10).
Senator Peters posited two options critical to the survival of PANCAP: first, that the organization must commit to achieving higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in its operations, with results-based programming; and secondly, that the HIV response in the Caribbean must continue to seek funding from traditional and non-traditional partners, coupled with governments of the region assuming greater fiscal responsibility for the programme, notwithstanding the prevailing economic crunch.
“Personally, I look forward to the day when the private sector in the region will step forward and assume a greater role in financing the HIV response, as part of their corporate responsibility,” she stated
“More than likely, greater involvement on the part of the State will require a review of strategic directions, reallocation of resources and re-organization of services,” she added.
She argued that whatever the course of action taken, the bottom line must be a greater commitment of national resources to the HIV response in the region.
Director, National HIV/STI Programme in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kevin Harvey, who brought greetings on behalf of Minister of Health, Hon Rudyard Spencer, said that since the HIV epidemic is still prominent in the Caribbean, PANCAP has a very critical role to play.
“This (meeting) is a place where we can improve the coordination and achieve a levelling out of the response, to ensure that all the different countries and sectors are getting a fair share in the response”, he stated.
He said that the challenges in accessing funding for PANCAP should be looked at seriously over the two days of the meeting. He also suggested that a position be developed, through PANCAP, which could be put to funding agencies as a CARICOM position.
PANCAP is a regional entity established by the Heads of Government, for the purpose of coordinating a regional response to HIV and AIDS, primarily. The Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) functions as its Executive Board of PANCAP.

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