Caribbean governments have been urged to provide financial support for the Regional Coordinating Mechanism of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), at the opening in St Lucia of PANCAP’s twelfth meeting.
Dominica’s Minister of Health and Chair of PANCAP, John Fabien, says he is firmly convinced that the time is opportune for Caribbean governments to demonstrate tangible financial support through an organized system of contribution.
Speaking on the issue of resource mobilization, the Fabien drew attention to the gap which existed between officially-stated financial resources for the implementation of the regional component of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF), pitched at US$60 million and the more realistic estimates of US$100 million.
“There is no doubt that the task of mobilizing resources of such proportions in the current financial climate will be formidable, although by no means impossible to achieve,” the minister said.
He spoke also to the increasing opportunities for funding from agencies such as the Global Fund and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR II), adding that he intended, on behalf of the Partnership, to lead the pursuit of these emerging opportunities with tenacity.
On the issue of stigma and discrimination against those with AIDS, the minister said that this was not only the work of policy makers, but that collective action must be taken.
“We will never lick stigma and discrimination in the Caribbean unless religious and faith-based leaders, civil society organizations, legislators and other interest groups join hands with policy makers in presenting a common front to a vexing problem”, the minister stated.
Grenads’s health minister, Karl Hood, spoke also of the necessity of mobilizing resources, saying, there is no country in the Caribbean that can conduct the AIDS fight without considerable external assistance.
“This is not mendicancy; it is the fact of life,” declared Hood as he congratulated PEPFAR for increasing its support to the region. “We are confident that such resources will be applied in the most strategic way for the collective benefit of the region.”
Resource mobilization was a key issue on the agenda of the two-day meeting, which, among other things, considered a regional project costing approximately US$35 million to be submitted to the Global Fund. The focus of this regional project is on the most-at-risk population and will also include a component on treatment and care in the seven Organization of Eastern Caribbean State members.
The RCM is the Executive Board of PANCAP and its responsibilities include providing policy guidance on the effective management and operation of the partnership and approving and directing all PANCAP projects. PANCAP, established in 2001, is the regional mechanism responsible for coordinating the Caribbean’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.