PANCAP gives CARICOM 'clear' guidelines on HIV/AIDS fight By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
November 14, 2003

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Dr. Edward Greene, CARICOM Assistant Secretary General in a brief exchange with Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy at the PANCAP 3RD Annual General Meeting at Le Meridien Pegasus.
Minister with responsibility for Health and Human Resource in CARICOM's Quasi Cabinet yesterday gave the PANCAP family new and specific guidelines governing the spending of monies handed out by donors for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In clear and concise terms, Dr. Douglas, who is also Chairman of the Pan Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP), on the occasion of that body's 3rd Annual General Meeting, challenged those present: "to ensure that there is a more judicious system of sharing and maximizing the resources in the interest of Persons Living with AIDS (PLWAs), and in averting the spread of HIV/AIDS."

Noting that HIV is a disease that is diminishing our vital human resources, especially the young and the young mothers and their babies..., he warned, that: "HIV, if not checked, would render meaningless, all our plans for our CSME and a competitive region within the global system."

Dr. Douglas was at the time making reference to the recent announcement of the grant awards from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) to eight proposals, including those from PANCAP, the OECS, and from Belize, Guyana Haiti, and Jamaica. He contended that these awards provide the 'ultimate challenge' to the PANCAP family to ensure the kind of system alluded to.

And CARICOM Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Edward Greene, pointed out that the regional proposal places emphasis on care and treatment, prevention and human rights, which will indeed be the priorities that PANCAP would pursue over the immediate period, in its attempt to accelerate the response to HIV/AIDS.

Participants at the 3rd PANCAP Annual General Meeting at Le Meridien Pegasus, Georgetown.
And in relation to the workings of PANCAP, Dr. Greene assured that PANCAP will continue to perfect its system of governance, which includes accountability, and participation of stakeholders. He urged the meeting to dedicate its deliberations to 'truly finding the formula' for accelerating the implementation of the Regional Strategic framework. [T1]

The ASG said that the awards from the Global Fund to the 8 successful Caribbean Projects amount to approximately US$40 Million over the first two years, and a possible total of US$110 Million over a 5 year period... and much more is need to 'stem the tide' of this devastating disease'.

Dr. Greene made the startling disclosure that, on average 1 per cent of the population of the entire Caribbean, or approximately 500,000 persons are infected with HIV, with almost 40 per cent of the infected adult population being women, and the infected prevalence rate among girls being five times higher than boys. With the epidemic showing no sign of easing, the economic implications are enormous ASG Greene said. And studies have shown that, if unchecked, the total cost to Caribbean countries (excluding Haiti) could reach $80 Million by the year 2020, with significant reductions in GDP as a consequence.

On a sombre note, and in the same spirit of compassion the leaders advocate towards PLWAs, Dr. Greene, reflecting on the continuous onslaught of the killer disease against humanity noted: "The lives of many children yet unborn, young men and young women, poor people and other vulnerable groups - depend on our collective efforts in the fight

Against HIV/AIDS."

Dr. Greene expressed gratitude to the CDC,CDB, UNDP, IDB, ITAC, USAID and others for their support to PANCAP, and with a firm resolve, admonished the leaders: "It is indeed a fight that we cannot afford to lose."