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State Minister for Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, has hailed the support from the global community and local stakeholders, which has enabled the national HIV/AIDS programme to continue to offer services at all levels, despite the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

She cited the assistance from the Government of the United States; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

These are in addition to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), among others.

“We are extremely grateful for the support,” she said.

“As a nation, demonstrating what it means to tackle this disease in solidarity with a sense of shared responsibility is of paramount importance. Whether as funding partners, technical informants for policy design and programme implementation, or as medical workers serving people living with HIV and AIDS at the community level, we need to have all hands on deck,” Mrs. Cuthbert-Flynn added.

The State Minister, in a message to mark the Day on December 1, under the theme ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility’, argued that the past several months have demonstrated that when it comes to public health “no one is safe until all are safe”.

She noted that challenges are being faced in the form of disruptions to service delivery due to curfews and quarantine, supply chain management issues because of country lockdowns, increased demand for personal protective equipment and re-prioritisation of laboratory services for testing.

She is imploring everyone to work together to safeguard the health and wellness of those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, while paying respect to those who have lost their lives to the disease.

The State Minister, in the meantime, commended UNAIDS for bringing the global community together to mark World AIDS Day despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

She pointed out that although COVID-19 has been all-consuming across the globe, the entity ensured that the world paused to observe the day. “The COVID-19 global pandemic has presented myriad challenges to the HIV/AIDS response on an international scale and it is heartening to see us coming together to achieve global solidarity through our shared responsibility,” she noted.

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