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Prime Minister Harris and regional health leaders discuss critical issues relating to the HIV/AIDS Agenda

 St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris was on Monday, April 10, 2017, updated on several critical issues relating to the HIV/AIDS agenda and its impact on the overall health of the Caribbean region.

This was done during a brief meeting with the Prime Minister Harris, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene and Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) Coordinating Unit, Dereck Springer. Permanent Secretary and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health and HIV matters, Mr. Andrew Skerritt was also present during Monday’s discussions.

The visiting health officials indicated to the Prime Minister the strides made with respect to the treatment, prevention and financing of AIDS programmes throughout the region and outlined the tremendous contributions of countries to HIV/AIDS, including the multisectoral investments in health, education and social programmes.

Dr. Greene and Mr. Springer informed Dr. Harris of what they termed “significant gaps” in the efforts to reduce instances of HIV/AIDS in the region, created primarily from the transition from donor funding. These gaps include HIV/AIDS prevention and laboratory strengthening.

Prime Minister Harris expressed his pleasure that PANCAP’s Justice for All Programme was able to mobilize support of various stakeholders including very successful consultations with 60 regional faith-based leaders drawn from all religious denominations in February of this year.

The Prime Minister was also pleased to note that similar consultations will be held with youths and youth organizations including CARICOM Youth Ambassadors. Those consultations are scheduled for April 21-22 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Prime Minister Harris, who also serves as CARICOM’s lead spokesperson on human resource, health and HIV matters, pledged support for a regional meeting of parliamentarians that will focus on the status of sexual offences legislation and issues relating to stigma and discrimination of persons living with HIV. That meeting is slated to take place in May in Jamaica.

The Honourable Prime Minister agreed to continue to champion the Every Caribbean Woman Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC) initiative which is aimed at reducing violence against women, children and adolescents. The ECWECC initiative focuses on four priority issues: teenage pregnancy; violence against women and children; cervical cancer and mother to child transmission of HIV in the Caribbean.

It was expressed that Prime Minister Harris will lead the presentation of this programme at the Clinton Global Initiative forum in June, 2017, along with representatives of the recently created Caribbean First Ladies/Spouses Network (CARIFLAN).

While attending that forum in New York City, Dr. Harris is expected to meet with United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guteres to brief him on major developments in the Caribbean.



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