JIS News

The Jamaican community in Washington D.C. has donated $440,000 to two local institutions that provide general assistance as well as hospice care for children with HIV/AIDS. The institutions are the Paediatric-Prenatal HIV Programme at the University of the West Indies, which received $290,000 and the Spanish Town-based Dare to Care Home for Children Living with HIV/AIDS, which got $150,000.
Health Minister, John Junor, accepted the money on behalf of the institutions at a function held at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington recently. The funds were the proceeds from functions held in August to celebrate the country’s 41st year of Independence and 165th year of Emancipation.
The Minister praised the Jamaican community for its “continued commitment to the Jamaican nation in fighting this deadly disease and providing needed material resources, which will assist both private institutions, as well as government in the delivery of more effective care, particularly to children affected by HIV/AIDS.”
In his remarks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Seymour Mullings, stressed that the contributions underscored a “deepening awareness on the part of Jamaicans in Washington and throughout the US, of the debilitating and adverse impact of HIV/AIDS and the considerable drain on resources and productivity that has resulted from the spread of this disease.”
Mr. Mullings said he was optimistic that the growing partnership between Jamaicans at home and abroad would realize “dramatic gains not only in the treatment of the disease but also in ongoing prevention initiatives.” He informed that the Embassy would be expanding its efforts to sensitise Jamaicans in the US about the “critical health emergency that HIV represents. Many Jamaicans and indeed Caribbean nationals, remain unaware of the extent of this challenge and its proliferation in the region. There is not a sufficient understanding of the urgent response that is needed, given the prevalence rates of the disease in Jamaica, as well as the Caribbean at large,” Mr. Mullings stated.
He observed that any approach to tackling HIV/AIDS must be devised as comprehensively as possible, and should not seek to look at Jamaica or the Caribbean in isolation from the US.
In recent years, community groups such as the Jamaica Nationals Association and the Jamaican Women of Washington have been focussing their fundraising efforts on addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its growing impact on Jamaica, with the Jamaican Women of Washington recently, contributing over $600,000 to the Jamaica AIDS Support Foundation.
The Embassy of Jamaica has also placed the issue of HIV/AIDS at the centre of its advocacy in Washington and in July joined other CARICOM missions to successfully lobby the US government for the inclusion of all Caribbean states in the Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (EPAR), which was announced by President Bush in his February State of the Union address.

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