Special envoy on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean touts regional efforts to combat the diseaseListen /
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean Edward Greene was in New York early January as part of a team of envoys dealing with HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific and Africa, among other regions. They discussed with the Secretary-General their portfolios and the way forward in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary-General as well as the UNAIDS office in Geneva.
Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Green spoke with UN Radio's Ben Malor and spoke about the current HIV/AIDS situation in the Caribbean.
” I think the trends are showing some marked improvements in the Caribbean's response to HIV/AIDS. For example, the 2012 UN report on HIV/AIDS showed how markedly important we had addressed the issues and how we had achieved so well over the last 10 years. So for example, 50% reduction in the number of people dying from AIDS; 70% increase in the number of people who are on anti-retroviral drugs as well as 80% of reductions in mother-to-child transmission which really puts us on par with of the developing countries, so over the past 10 years, according to that report, the Caribbean has achieved much but it is important to state that there's no need for complacency because we are suffering from a cutback in financial resources from both multilateral and bilateral sources based on the fact that the Caribbean countries are considered to be middle income countries and the global fund has specific conditionalities for attributing and giving funds to countries which means that middle income countries like the Caribbean are not necessarily favoured with conditional and concessional grants. However, what we are doing is trying to ensure that countries in the Caribbean finance their programmes out of their budgets and there is an institution called the Pan Caribbean partnership that has been tremendous – it brings together governments, businesses as well as NGO's and development partners with a strategic plan that helps to mobilise resources and we are hoping that through that source we can maintain financial sustainability for programmes in the Caribbean region as a whole.
Ben Malor: What are some of the things you will mention that could serve as a lesson to other parts of the world.
First of all, I think the Caribbean has approached the problems related to AIDS in a collective way. I indicated just now that the Pan-Caribbean Partnership was a very unique initiative and has been designated by the UN as an "international best practise", and because of the Pan Caribbean Partnership, the region has been able to act collectively in terms of both access to drugs, preventive strategies and treatment. So, in fact, we take that as a significant lesson which is being copied in Central Asia which has a number of States that are showing spike in the prevalence of AIDS. The second lesson I believe, is the fact that we have had good support from critical agencies, in particular the UN system and UNAIDS in particular and from the US government through PEPFAR They have seen it fit to invest in a programme –the regional programme because they think that by investing in the regional public good, they can help to advance. And the third I believe, is a good political will which has been displayed by our heads of government and from our ministerial level interventions. In fact, the Ministers of Heath have collectively written to the Global Fund asking for a change of the conditionalities which really erodes the access of Caribbean countries – middle income countries to funds. So, those three factors – PANCAP as a collective response; the collaboration with development partners as well as the issue related to political will. I will say those are the three of the lessons you could learn from the Caribbean.”
Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean .
Donn Bobb, United Nations.