Trinidad and Tobago— During and inception meeting 28-29 April, the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) launched its PEPFAR- and USAID-funded Local Capacity Initiative (LCI) Project at the University of the West Indies (UWI), HEU Centre for Health Economics, Sir George Alleyne Building – Auditorium, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago.
This three-year project seeks to build the capacity of one regional organisation and several local community service organisations (CSOs) that specifically focus their efforts on key populations. Through the LCI, the organisations will become more sustainable as they continue to strive towards the overall goal of reducing the transmission of HIV in the Caribbean. PANCAP and the UWI HEU Centre for Health Economics will collaborate to implement the project. The project is aligned with the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS (CRSF), 2014-2018.
The meeting brought together regional organisations, which support the work of key populations through advocacy and policy. During the two days, participants developed their capacity-building initiatives and plans to create synergy between the LCI project and the PANCAP Justice for All programme, and they agreed on target countries. First, the meeting identified gaps in CSOs’ capacities that hinder achievement of their mandates. Next, it examined the content, mechanisms and processes for building the capacity of CSOs in advocacy and policy work. Finally, it highlighted the key requirements for optimising the outcomes of the LCI project.
Through this initiative, PANCAP will receive funding to provide grants to local CSOs in countries funded by PEPFAR for activities such as policy and advocacy, programme implementation and/or building a financially diverse organisation. In addition, PANCAP will facilitate identifying and providing technical assistance to those CSOs receiving grants, as well as other regional bodies needing such assistance.
This project was informed by the epidemiology of HIV in the Caribbean, which has an HIV prevalence rate of one percent among adults, and is the second-hardest hit region in the world after sub-Saharan Africa. Among key populations, men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers (SWs) are disproportionately affected by HIV throughout the Caribbean region.
According to the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF), 2014-2018, Caribbean MSM are five to 10 times more likely that the general population to be living with HIV. In the Dominican Republic, prevalence is 11 percent among MSM in contrast to less than one percent for the general population. In Jamaica, prevalence among MSM may be as much as ten times higher than for the general population, at an estimated 32 percent in 2012. Prevalence among MSM is similarly high in Trinidad and Tobago at 19 percent and Haiti at 18 percent. Because of high levels of stigma, however, survey data may not be representative of the entire MSM population.
By targeting programmes at these key populations, the LCI Project will contribute towards the regional goal of an overall reduction of HIV transmission rates.
In attendance at the meeting were: Ms Falicia Adams, Senior Programme Officer, Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV; Mr. Kip Beardsley , Senior Technical Advisor, Futures Group-Health Policy Project; Mr Ivanhoe Cruickshank, Project Director, Caribbean Vulnerable Communitites Coalition; Ms. Dona DaCosta Martinez, Executive Director, Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago; Dr Marcus Day, Director, Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute; Ms Miriam Edwards, Co-Chair, Caribbean Sex Workers Coalition; Dr Michel de Groulard, Regional Programme Coordinator, Centro de Orientacion e Investigacion Integral; Mr Lucien Desire Govaard, Representative, CariFlags; Ms. Marina Hilaire-Bartlett, Executive Director, Population Services International, Caribbean; Ms. Sandra Jones, Sub-regional Advisor, Pan American Health Organisation; Mr Collin Kirton, Senior Accountant, PANCAP Coordinating Unit; Ms Ann-Marie Libert-Defour, HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago; Mr. Kenneth Morrison, Senior Technical Advisor, Futures Group-Health Policy Project; Ms Yolanda Paul, Project Manager, UWI HIV and AIDS Response Programme; Mr. Vivian Rookhum, Consultant, PEPFAR; Mr. Kishore Shallow, CARICOM Youth Ambassador; Ms. Yolanda Simon, Key Populations Consultant; Mr Dereck Springer, Director, PANCAP Coordinating Unit; and Ms. Lisa Thompson, Programme Management Specialist, PEPFAR.
From the University of the West Indies HEU Health Economic Unit, Director Prof. Karl Theodore was joined by: Dr. Anton Cumberbatch, Public Health Specialist; Mrs Patricia Edwards-Wescott, Junior Research Fellow; Mrs Kimberly-Ann Gittens-Baynes, Junior Research Fellow; Dr. Althea La Foucade, Assistant Coordinator; Ms Christine Laptiste, Research Fellow; Mrs Valerie Matas, Research Techinician; Mr. Roger McLean, Research Fellow; Ms Charmaine Metivier, Junior Research Fellow; Ms Tanika Riley, Research Technician; and Ms Cheryl Theodore, Administrative Assistant.