Caribbean meet agrees donor coordination group, more help for people with HIV/AIDS
Stabroek News
November 20, 2003

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A group is to be established to deal with recommendations on the rationalisation of resources and to coordinate the efforts of donors for the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP).

According to a communiqué issued after the PANCAP two-day Annual General Meeting, which concluded on Thursday, the proposal to set up the group was made by the Steering Committee in the light of the number of donor agencies that have been supporting PANCAP and those that have pledged their support.

The communiqué also said that the meeting called for an expansion of the CARICOM-European Union (EU) Project on Strengthening the Institutional Response to HIV/AIDS/STI in the Caribbean (SIRHASC). The project's objective is the reduction in the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS/STI in CARIFORUM Member States, especially the worst-affected countries. The project had been implemented in July 2001 and was scheduled to come to an end on June 30, 2004.

According to the communiqué, the meeting called for the EU to consider a no-cost expansion of the project beyond the period to ensure that the ongoing programmes can be sustained, while provision is being made for their incorporation into mainstream institutions.

The meeting also endorsed the recommendation from the Steering Committee for consideration to be given by the European Union (EU) to permit the current EU/CARICOM Project Implementation Unit (PIU) to be merged with the PANCAP Coordinated Unit over the Period 2004-2005, when the no-cost extension phase would be in operation.

CARICOM was mandated to discuss these issues with the EU.

Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who spoke at a press conference at the end of the meeting, said a proposal for the structure and functions of PANCAP, which reflected a refinement of proposals from the second AGM held in October 2002 was considered.

He said the proposal set out the inter-locking relationship between the various groups/committees/bodies and their respective roles and responsibilities.

The minister said it was agreed that the Steering Committee, which held its inaugural meeting during the last AGM, would perform the executive functions, placing special emphasis on the initiation of appropriate programmes, methods of improving linkages among partners and the implementation of priorities.

The Steering Committee comprises 20 members representing the various constituent groups that make up the PANCAP Partnership.

Dr Ramsammy told reporters that the meeting agreed that during the current year a special sub-committee of PANCAP should be established to accelerate programmes at the country level designed to protect the rights of PLWHAS and their families.

He said that the main elements of such a programme would include initiatives for reducing stigma, increasing and strengthening the participation of regional and national networks of PLWHA in the response to HIV/AIDS, and promoting a safe workplace environment free of stigma and discrimination.

The meeting also agreed with the recommendation of the Working Group on Care and Treatment that efforts should be placed on seeking lower prices for ARVs, coordinating the procurement and distribution process and strengthening voluntary counselling and testing.

Donor partners agreed that they would continue to support the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF) and several specific commitments were made for collaboration with PANCAP in the areas of monitoring and evaluation, surveillance, care treatment and support, laboratory research, institutional strengthening, youth and HIV/AIDS, social and reproductive health and security programmes.

Also at the meeting, the actions taken and the progress made in respect of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV/AIDS for 1999-2004 were noted.

The seven priority areas, which had been identified for action in the framework are: advocacy; policy development and legislation; care and support for People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAS); prevention of HIV transmission among young people; prevention of HIV transmission among vulnerable populations; prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission; strengthening of regional and national resources capabilities and resource mobilisation.