UNDP initiative aims to reverse HIV/AIDS epidemic
By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2003

Related Links: Articles on AIDS
Letters Menu Archival Menu

AMIDST worrying UNAIDS statistics which show that the Caribbean Region now has about 500,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has embarked on an innovative response to the problem, which will make for a sustainable reversal of the epidemic.

The initiative is in keeping with the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment of June 2001 which describes the HIV/AIDS epidemic as an "economic, social and medical emergency" which will not be halted soon enough without 'outstanding leadership teams acting in concert around the globe,'

To this end, UNDP, in response to the UNGASS call for "strong leadership at all levels to meet the challenge," recently brought some 50 Caribbean nationals on board a [Caribbean] HIV/AIDS Leadership Development for Results Programme.

The purpose of the programme, according to UNDP Resident Representative in Guyana, Mr. Thomas Gass, is to provide key stakeholders and advocates from government, civil society, the private sector, and key vulnerable groups, with a set of skills and the opportunity to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS through a strengthened, coordinated, multi-sectoral response with proactive leadership at its core.

Critical to the programme are leadership and commitment, and broadly aims to develop capacity for personal leadership for action. It will be conducted over a five-month period.

Phase I of the programme was a Change Agent Training Workshop held at the Cascadia Hotel, Port of Spain, Trinidad, from January 13 to 17, 2003.

The forum brought together 50 persons with leadership potentials as determined by the UNDP. The organisation selected the participants from seven Caribbean countries.

The countries involved were: Guyana - 11 persons; Barbados - 10; Jamaica 10; Trinidad and Tobago - 8; Dominican Republic - 4; St. Kitts - 2; Suriname - 1; and, from the New York UNDP Office - 2.

The Guyana delegation comprised:

** Dr. Brian O'Toole Psychologist/Consultant, Varqua Foundation;
** Ms. Margo Singh, Coordination and Communications Analyst, UNDP Office, Georgetown.
** Mrs. Kala Seegopaul of Varqua Foundation and the Canadian International Development Agency
** Mr. William, Skeete of the University of Guyana
** Mr. Jimmy Bhojedat, Executive Director of Lifeline Counselling Foundation
** Mr. Winston Beresford, Consultant - Occupational Health and Safety
** Ms. Lorna Mc Pherson, Training Officer of the Ministry of Education
** Ms. Shirley Thomas - Journalist/Secretary, United Media Committee against HIV/AIDS in Guyana
** Deborah Success Hall, Social Worker/Counsellor (PHG GUM Clinic
** Dmitri Nicholson of Youth Challenge International

The programme involved five days of lectures, group discussions, and intense brainstorming as countries grappled with issues in relation to the novel approach to leadership in the fight against the epidemic. It was conducted by three highly skilled UNDP Consultants from Teleos Leadership Institute, United States of America.

The Consultants (all Clinical Psychologists, among other specialties) were Dr. Michael Mc Elhenie; Dr. Therese Jacobs-Stewart and Dr. Frances Johnston. They trained participants in the broad aspects of `Emotional Intelligence’ Leadership Development Methodology for Change Agents.

The Consultants previously worked on the implementation of this programme in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

On completion of Phase I of the programme held in Trinidad, participants were awarded with Certificates in `Leadership for Results’.

The participants’ responsibilities now include helping to facilitate aspects of a subsequent five-day Leadership Development Programme in their respective countries, and assisting the broader group of participants to identify suitable post-workshop Action Learning Projects, employing enhanced leadership and management skills.

The Change Agents will, among other things, be required to facilitate a three-day country level meeting two months after the Leadership Development Programme Workshop to present the project outcome.

It is the UNDP's intention that its Leadership Development initiative will assist each flagship country to meet the challenges set by the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment; set new goals to reverse the epidemic, and develop skills and capabilities in leaders at every level of the response.

It is anticipated that these will translate into increasing the speed and effectiveness of strategy implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes .

Site Meter