The Ministry of Health, Jamaica will host the first in a series of regional meetings to discuss ways in which the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States can access cheaper anti-retroviral drugs to care for persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Region. The Meeting takes place on 18-19 February 2002, in the capital, Kingston.
The two-day Meeting will focus on negotiations with major international pharmaceutical companies, supplying anti-retroviral drugs to the Caribbean.
A number of presentations are expected to be made by regional and international organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS on the issue of a regional approach for access to care, and on the current status of treatment and support in the Caribbean.
The `Declaration of Commitment' on HIV/AIDS coming out of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, in 2001, recognised “.. that the cost and availability of drugs and related technology are significant factors to be reviewed and addressed in all aspects and that there is a need to reduce the cost of these drugs and technologies in close collaboration with the private sector and pharmaceutical companies”. The Declaration also acknowledged that “…the lack of affordable pharmaceuticals and of feasible supply structures and health systems continue to hinder an effective response to HIV/AIDS in many countries, especially for the poorest people.” It further re-emphasised the need “to make drugs available at low prices for those in need”.
The CARICOM Secretariat is mandated by Heads of Governments to coordinate the regional response to HIV/AIDS under the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS. This initiative is the first of its kind, and represents the Region's harmonised approach to protection and attention for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The CARICOM Team to the Jamaica Meeting will include Dr. Edward Greene, Assistant Secretary-General Human and Social Development, a number of CARICOM Ministers of Health and other technical officers.