Prime Minister Harris Extols CARICOM’S Successes, and Thanks President Bill Clinton for His Vision and Support

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 22ND, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris extolled the successes of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in human development and health yesterday, Wednesday, September 21st, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City. The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis also thanked former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative for their invaluable support.

Prime Minister Harris, who is CARICOM’s Lead Head on Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS, was a featured speaker during a small group discussion focused on the sexual health of Caribbean girls and women. The CGI session titled Combating Teen Pregnancy, Cervical Cancer, and HIV in Caribbean Girls and Women was held from 2:00pm to 3:30pm yesterday, the final day of the CGI 2016 Annual Meeting.

“It is important to point out that the CARICOM region, which comprises 15 Member States and 5 Associate States, has operated as a Community for over 40 years. Although economic integration, foreign policy and security arrangements have been important pillars of its association, the major successes to date have been in the areas of functional cooperation, especially in health, education, gender and youth, all of which are pivotal to the Every Caribbean Girl, Every Caribbean Woman Initiative,” Prime Minister Harris said yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

Dr. Harris noted during yesterday’s CGI session that the CARICOM Heads of Government endorsed the Every Caribbean Girl, Every Caribbean Woman Initiative (ECGECW) at their Thirty-Seventh Regular Meeting, which was officially opened at Guyana’s National Cultural Centre on July 4th, 2016, CARICOM’s 43rd Anniversary. The CARICOM Communiqué issued after the meeting in Guyana said the ECGECW initiative is “intended to address key sexual and reproductive health concerns of girls and women in the Caribbean” by reducing teenage pregnancy, preventing cervical cancer, and eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Back on June 8th, 2016, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis also praised the Caribbean Community’s successes when he made a statement on behalf of CARICOM at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. Prime Minister Harris’ statement was well received by the delegates, who included Heads of State and Government, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS, and representatives from civil society, international organizations, the scientific community and the private sector.

Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly on June 8th, Prime Minister Harris highlighted CARICOM’s achievements. “The HIV prevalence rate has been halved from 2.2% to 1.1%; the estimated number of people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy has increased from under 5% to 44%; deaths from AIDS-related causes declined from approximately 20,000 to 8,800, and our aspiration is to be the first region in the world to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” Dr. Harris said. (On June 8th, the U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said that four countries – Armenia, Belarus, Cuba and Thailand – have completely eliminated mother-to-child HIV infections.)

Yesterday, Wednesday, September 21st, while speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2016 Annual Meeting in New York City, Prime Minister Harris said that, “These successes [achieved by CARICOM] are due in no small measure to the role that our regional institutions play and the priorities that are placed on human development and cooperation with international partners. The Clinton Foundation, for example, played a significant role in accelerating the AIDS response in the Caribbean, by becoming a member of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean in 2002 [on August 22nd, 2002, the Caribbean Community signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation in support of the Region’s continuing efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS], by joining in advocating for a reduction of prices for antiretroviral drugs in 2004 and by pioneering access to generic drugs, which by 2006 led to significant reductions from USD$10,000 in 2002 to USD$300.00, and now under USD$100 per person per year. This led to a significant increase in the number of people with access to affordable medicines from less than 10 percent of persons living with AIDS in 2000 to approximately 50 percent in 2015. It also led to substantial reduction in deaths from AIDS, and the aspiration that, inspired by this Commitment, the Caribbean will be the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis continued: “I take this opportunity on behalf of the Caribbean to say thanks to President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, for its visionary advocacy and global reach, and to the Clinton Global Initiative, through its corporate sponsors and community partners, for their support for valuable life-saving interventions, innovative technology, investments in human development and creative leadership throughout the developing world. We hope that a formula will be found to sustain these efforts and a legacy well worth celebrating.”

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