CARICOM Heads reach agreement on HIV/AIDS fight, cricket
Dame Eugenia to receive award By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 7, 2002

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Agreements were reached between CARICOM Heads of Government on several human and social issues including HIV and AIDS, crime and security, information communication technology (ICT), cricket and awards of the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) at their just concluded summit in Georgetown.

The agreements were released in the communiqué issued at the end of the Twenty-third Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government held from July 3 to 5 at Le Meridien Pegasus.

Named to receive the OCC are former prime minister of Dominica Dame Eugenia Charles, former prime minister of St Lucia, Sir John Compton and prominent Trinidadian economist/intellectual, Lloyd Best.

On the issue of HIV and AIDS, the communiqué said, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil Douglas will sign an agreement of principles with a number of pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the Pan Caribbean Partnership at the International HIV/AIDS Conference to be held in Barcelona on Wednesday.

The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) is currently preparing a regional proposal to access financing for its regional programme from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to implement its regional programme.

PANCAP, the communiqué said, has scaled up its response, especially in the area of treatment and care in keeping with established specific targets and time frame for PANCAP as mandated by the Heads.

The communiqué noted that regional negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for cheaper anti-retroviral drugs had yielded significant reductions in prices ranging from 50% to 80%. The regional negotiations were initiated in Jamaica in February and were followed up at in Geneva at the World Health Assembly in May and subsequently in the Bahamas last month.

On the issue of crime and security, the Heads have agreed to seven initiatives coming out of the recommendation of the Regional Security Task Force which was established after last year's Heads of Government summit held in the Bahamas.

They agreed to establish broad-based national commissions on law and order; to prepare and implement national anti-crime master plans; strengthen border control measures especially at seaports and airports; strengthen the information and intelligence exchange regime as an essential element in the fight against illegal drugs, firearms and terrorism; implement an aggressive programme aimed at taking guns of the streets; establish a regional mutual legal assistance regime; a regional exchange of prisoners agreement; engage the international community in discussions regarding mutual support for crime control efforts and a conduct critical review of the existing policy against illegal drugs.

The conference also endorsed the recommendation of the Joint Meeting of Attorneys-at-Law and Ministers responsible for national security that drug abuse be treated primarily as a public health issue with emphasis on reinforcement of values.

In relation to cricket the Heads supported the plans put forward for the staging of the World Cup 2007 based on the report from the Chief Executive Officer of the Windies World Cup, the agency designated to manage the event.

On the issue of science and technology, including ICT and e-commerce, the Heads concurred that a regional ICT strategy would be finalised through an agreed process and submitted for their consideration at the Fourteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting scheduled for early 2003. The regional approach was taken because of increasing challenges the digital revolution has posed to smaller economies such as those in the region.

They also agreed that CARICOM would further pursue meaningful participation in hemispheric and other global policy-making fora on the global information society. The Heads, the communique said, recognised the potential of ICT for enhancing and integrating societies in the region in areas such as education, health, poverty reduction, delivery of public information and governance which were articulated in the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society. They noted, too, the ICT potential for transforming the economic landscape, growing the CSME and advancing regional trade agenda.