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  • Citizens will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of Jamaica’s first Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Policy and the revision of the National HIV/AIDS Policy through a series of islandwide public consultations.
  • Both entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to seal the partnership during a ceremony at the offices of the SDC in Kingston on May 5.
  • The schedule of venues for the consultations will be available through the SDC parish offices and the NFPB.

Citizens will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of Jamaica’s first Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Policy and the revision of the National HIV/AIDS Policy through a series of islandwide public consultations.

The first of 13 public discussion sessions is scheduled be held at the Christ Anglican Church Hall in Port Antonio, Portland, on Tuesday (May 10), starting at 1:00 p.m.

The National Family Planning Board-Sexual Health Agency (NFPB-SHA) is spearheading the consultations in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC).

Both entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to seal the partnership during a ceremony at the offices of the SDC in Kingston on May 5.

Executive Director of the NFPB, Dr. Denise Chevannes, in noting the significance of the undertaking, said the objective is to engage communities in discussion that will lead to the creation of a situational analysis as a first step in the SRH policy formulation process.

She noted that the SRH policy will involve a combination of technical, administrative, financial and political commitments for the delivery of SRH services and commodities at the national level.

Turning to the revision of the National HIV/AIDS Policy, Dr. Chevannes said the aim is to develop a strategy to guide the implementation of HIV interventions based on new evidence now available.

She noted that the existing policy was developed at a time when the HIV epidemic was generalised, and while there have been tremendous gains, there are gaps and emerging challenges that need to be addressed.

Among the gains are: a 25 percent reduction in the number of new HIV infections between 2005 and 2015; decrease in the infection rate among sex workers from a high of 21 percent in 1990 to 4.1 percent in 2013; and lowering in the incidence of mother-to-child transmission to less than two percent since 2011.

In addition, almost 50 percent of persons in need of antiretroviral drugs are accessing treatment, resulting in a 61 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths since 2004.

Executive Director, SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon, welcomed the entity’s participation in the public consultations.  He said the effectiveness of a policy is “contingent on citizens’ participation”.

The revision of the National HIV Policy, which began in 2014, will serve to strengthen the response at all levels; provide strategic direction for the national response; establish clear priorities for action through the addition of a Policy Implementation Plan and a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; define rights and entitlements of all citizens within the context of the HIV response.

The draft National HIV Policy is available on the NFPB’s website at www.jnfpb.org.

The schedule of venues for the consultations will be available through the SDC parish offices and the NFPB.

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