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Ambassador Bullen meets with Chief Citizen
UNITED States Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Roland Bullen, yesterday continued his round of meeting with key members of the Guyanese society with a courtesy call on Chief Citizen/Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green. The meeting took place at the Mayor's office at City Hall.
"The way societal rights and individual rights are separated is being dramatically informed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic (and) the way we deal with stigma and discrimination has been brought right to the fore by the ongoing response to HIV/AIDS," Ramsammy asserted.
In an address to the 6th Conference of Healthcare Resource Allocations for HIV/AIDS: Healthcare Systems in Transition which was held recently in Washington, United States, Minister Ramsammy indicated that the relationship and the responsibility governments have to their citizens are being altered in ways that decades and centuries of advocacy did not envisage.
"We know how to make diagnosis and we know how to effectively treat those who are living with HIV/AIDS, even if we do not yet know how to cure them. We know it is possible to develop a vaccine and we know that information, education and awareness together with legal and regulatory environments have worked in dealing with stigma and discrimination under other circumstances. Where these tools have been used, even if not optimally, significant advancement have been attained to interrupt transmission and success stories are now numerous in respect to reversing the crisis."
"I am, therefore, truly bewildered that these tools are beyond our reach still. Indeed, the words from the classical poetical work - The Albatross comes to mind: water, water all around, not a drop to drink," Minister Ramsammy asserted.
Stated Ramsammy: "We have become well aware of the mitigating circumstances that drive the pandemic. We know how its outcome of AIDS progresses. We know how the virus is transmitted. We know how to effectively establish physical barriers through the use of male and female condoms to reduce if not stop its transmission. We know that PMTCT programmes effectively reduce transmission of HIV from mother to child. We know the risk factors, the vulnerable groups and the relevant behaviour changes that are necessary to interrupt transmission. The tools of prevention and the tools of transmission interruption are well known and are within our grasp."
"Whatever are the reasons these tools are not optimally utilized and for whatever reason these tools are only accessible to some countries and some people and in most countries, only available to the elite must be beyond the bounds of morality (and) of decency," he posited.
"As we look into ourselves as a human race as we celebrate many astounding accomplishments in the 20th century and how far we have developed as humanity to the 21st century, nothing says more about how far more we need to go, that we really have not arrived to the place we want to be," he further asserted.
He also alluded to the fact that in recent times, there has been much talk about weapons of mass destruction and weapons that could be used or that have been used to terrorize millions of people.
"The world found the will and the resources to respond. The same zeal that drove us to expend billions of dollars is long overdue in our response to HIV/AIDS. We need, as Paul Farmer, a Founder of Partners in Health and the Institute for Health and Social Justice, once said, Instruments for Mass Salvation," Minister Ramsammy told the closing session of the Conference.
"And we do not have time. It has to be now," he said. "Whatever are the reasons these tools are not optimally utilized and for whatever reason these tools are only accessible to some countries and some people and in most countries, only available to the elite must be beyond the bounds of morality (and) of decency," he posited.