St. Kitts – Nevis’ Prime Minister Douglas
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis
July 30, 2008 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas has lauded Guyana’s efforts to ensure that other Caribbean countries also benefit and expressed hope that other Heads of Government would support plans to raise funds to tackle HIV/AIDS in the region.
A press release from Georgetown printed in the Starbroek News said Prime Minister Douglas lauded the efforts of Guyana’s Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Leslie Ramsammy’ to include other states besides Guyana and Haiti as they have set the stage for middle income regional states to receive assistance.
Guyana was also recognised as the first country in the region to provide free anti-retroviral treatment for persons living with the infection and continues to be one of few states to offer such a programme.
However, it has been noted that stigma and discrimination against persons living with the disease continues to be an area of concern in the Caribbean.
Dr. Douglas who is lead Head responsible for Health and Humanity Services in the Caribbean Community made these comments at the recent CARICOM Summit.
Caricom heads and their five associate members were being briefed on the operations of the task force established to handle the fight against the disease through the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS as regional efforts to stem the disease are ongoing.
Dr. Douglas also updated his colleagues on the region’s negotiations at the recently held United Nations (UN) Special session on HIV/AIDS.
He noted that the region has an appropriate response as it relates to prevention, care, treatment and support.
The task force presented a number of initiatives to the Heads since the next five years are expected to be crucial to the force especially in the area of financing.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Stephenson King said he is prepared to call on his colleagues to make a national financial contribution to stem the infection particularly since the region would need an estimated US$50M for the five-year programme.
Mr. King said there would be need to access funds from the Global Fund which was set up within the framework of the UN system; renewed effort as regards the region’s donor partners such as the Canadian International Development Agency and PEPFAR.
“We know too that they have been scaling back on their contribution, they have contributed US$45M in the first five years and now it is the turn of regional governments,” King said.
Dr. Douglas said he was optimistic that the other Heads would accept the proposal given the devastating effect HIV/AIDS has had on the region. He said too he is hopeful that countries besides Guyana and Haiti would come on board and accept more money from the Fund while middle income Caricom nations would also benefit.