Healthcare in the Caribbean

Haiti Health Minister Calls on Caribbean to Step Up Regional HIV/AIDS Fight

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - September 7, 2012

Above: CARICOM headquarters in Guyana

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti Health Minister Dr Florence Duperval Guillaume is calling on members of the Caribbean’s Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS to strengthen coordination efforts and improve integration efforts.

Guillaume made the remarks at the official opening of the Pan Caribbean Partnership’s executive board meeting in Port-au-Prince this week.

“Despite the international financial crunch, there is a sufficient flow of goodwill and understanding of the need to maintain and accelerate the momentum of the PANCAP response,” she said. Through PANCAP, “the voices of the community and civil society are heard at the highest level of decision-making in the [Caribbean] community,” she said.

“Haiti has made tremendous strides in reversing this epidemic and continues to work very hard to overcome extreme poverty, extremely high unemployment and other devastating effects of natural disasters,” she said. “Critical resources are still needed and alternative financing mechanisms are urgently required to reduce the disproportionate dependence on external grants and loans for HIV programming.”

She was joined by First Lady Sophia Martelly, who has made the fight against HIV/AIDS in Haiti a priority. (To learn more about Martelly’s efforts, read her interview with Caribbean Journal from last month.

“Even as the PANCAP network engaged in Haiti in advancing its effort to reduce its prevalence rate and to increase its access to prevention, treatment, care and support, the hosting of this meeting is a signal of Haiti as an equal partner in the regional process to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS,” said Myrna Bernard, director and officer-in-charge of CARICOM’s Directorate of Human and Social Development.

PANCAP was established in 2001 and is the Caribbean’s regional mechanism for coordinating the effort against HIV and AIDS.

“There is plenty of work that has been done and even more work lies ahead to ensure the continued and collective advances in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean,” said CARICOM Youth Ambassador Dwayne Gutzmer, who said he was confident that Haiti and the Haitian people could move the partnership forward.

The conference was held for the first time in Haiti at the Karibe Convention Centre, under the theme of “advocacy for human rights and a sustainable response to HIV.”

“The theme gives me the opportunity to remind everyone of our shared commitment to [all] children, by 2016, being born without HIV,” Martelly said.

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