Region Must Develop New Modalities to Fight HIV/AIDS – Owen Arthur


Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, has called for the development of “new modalities of cooperation” in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as the region moved closer to the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“As we proceed to the CSME, he said, “this region will be characterized by highly mobilized populations, whose movements, driven by factors that straddle economic and social issues, may place us at greater risk for transmitting the deadly virus.”
“It is therefore imperative for us to build on our history of regional cooperation as exemplified in existing functional cooperation in the areas of health, economics and education, to ensure that the spread of HIV/AIDS does not become one of the un-intended by-products of the creation of the CSME”, the Barbados Prime Minister noted.
He was speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) yesterday (Dec.14) at the Half Moon Hotel in St. James.
The joint CARICOM/UNAIDS Secretariat publication: ‘Common Goals, Shared Responses: A Case Study on the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS) was officially launched at the meeting and was designated an international best practice by UNAIDS.
Meanwhile, with statistics showing that there were some 440,000 living with HIV in the Caribbean and fewer than five per cent of infected persons having access to treatment, Mr. Arthur pointed to the need for increased international support to widen treatment and to build the capacity to effectively deliver care.
He acknowledged the “substantial new funding” that has been approved by the Global Fund and the World Bank for treatment and preventive measures but said that the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) must move towards identifying new strategies to provide technical assistance to countries in the most effective and efficient ways.
“Over the past two years, PANCAP has broken new grounds by negotiating reduced prices for anti-retroviral therapy with major pharmaceutical companies, however, these drugs remain too expensive for most in the Caribbean”, Prime Minister Arthur observed.
PANCAP was created in response to the need for urgent action to counter the AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean and its potentially devastating impact on the social and economic well-being of the region.
It has the distinction of being one of the first and now the only functioning multi-sectoral, multi-level regional AIDS partnership in the world. PANCAP has succeeded in raising the political profile of AIDS in the Caribbean region, creating understanding about the significance of the Caribbean epidemic within the broader global context, mobilizing significant new resources to fight AIDS, and establishing a structure to facilitate collaboration.

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