CARIFORUM to benefit from US$1.063M scheme on HIV/AIDS

Stabroek News
August 27, 2001

CARIFORUM member states - CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic - are to benefit from a US$ 1.063 million initiative which launches the second phase of the European Commission/Caribbean Community (CARICOM) HIV/AIDS/STI project.

The agreement setting the venture under way was signed recently at the CARICOM Headquarters, Bank of Guyana building, Georgetown and the work programme is being coordinated by the institution's Human and Social Development Programme, a CARICOM press release said.

The project is being implemented under the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS, initially introduced in February this year at the intersessional conference of the Caribbean Heads of Government in Barbados, the release said.

The opening phase of the project which commenced in January and concluded in June of this year has attracted additional financial aid from agencies such as the World Bank, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and USAID, while the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) has expressed a willingness to give support.

Several regional institutions, the release stated, are actively involved in the project, namely, the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), the University of the West Indies (UWI), the UNAIDS Regional Office, the Caribbean Regional Network for People Living with AIDS (CRN+) and the CARICOM Secretariat.

At the end of the July to December aspect of the work programme, achievements expected would include a review and development of medical, nursing and social science curricula at UWI; a review of regional Mother to Child Transmissions experience by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC); strengthening of the regional CRN+ network through the holding of four in-country capacity building workshops; conduct of annual in-country training in STI (sexually transmitted infections) management; and annual regional training courses in HIV/AIDS/STI for media professionals.

Also anticipated are the annual meeting of regional epidemiologists; workshops and seminars for business and trade unions; operational research on HIV/AIDS/STI-related issues, managed by CHRC and the conduct of one in-country programme review also by CHRC - all of which will be executed by CAREC in collaboration with UWI, the release stated.

By completion of the initiative in 2004, it is hoped to yield numerous advantages including a pool of skilled personnel equipped to contribute to effective policy development; planning and implementation of HIV/AIDS/STI programmes in the Caribbean; increased awareness about the benefits, costs and operational feasibility of programmes to reduce mother to child transmission of the virus; as well as an expanded and effective regional network of people with HIV/AIDS in six countries working for improved care and support and contributing to national policy development.

Further, this initiative should influence improvement in the regional capacity to design, implement and evaluate programmes to reduce high risk behaviour related to the spread of HIV/STI infections; and provide more comprehensive and accurate information on the course, consequences and costs of the epidemic through improved surveillance, monitoring and evaluation of national control programmes, the release added.

Present at the signing were Dr. Carla Barnett, Deputy Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Edward Greene, Assistant Secretary General for Human and Social Development, Helena Leesko and Keith Gordon, Deputy Head of and representative for the European Union Delegation to Guyana and Suriname in Guyana, respectively, and Colin Courtney, Assistant Administrator with the Project Implementation Unit.