BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 23rd, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Yesterday, at a meeting in New York, Dr. Edward Greene, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean briefed Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris on a number of upcoming events that will be crucial in procuring resources for one of the region’s most pressing health challenges.
Prime Minister Harris serves as CARICOM’s Lead Head on Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS.
The 2016 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, taking place in New York from June 8th to 10th, will focus on the need to accelerate the response to HIV over the next five years in order to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. On September 25th, 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets. Ending AIDS by 2030 is one of those targets.
Then, in July, several health symposiums will be held in South Africa, including the 9th International AIDS Economics Network (IAEN) Pre-Conference: Investing in Sustainable Responses to HIV and AIDS (July 15th to 16th) and the 21st International AIDS Conference (July 17th to 22nd).
Dr. Edward Greene, the UN Special Envoy, advised Dr. Harris that the region’s participation in these international meetings “can make a difference in resource distribution” to CARICOM.
The International AIDS Economics Network (IAEN), for instance, says the aim of the July 15th to 16th pre-conference is “to explore innovative, country-led approaches for supporting affected countries to prioritize, sustain and lead their national investments in HIV and AIDS responses. The related research will identify ways to create, optimize, and sustain fiscal space for HIV investment domestically, as well as explore innovative national and international financing mechanisms able to leverage allocated funds.”
This event will be hosted in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IAEN, the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), UNAIDS, the World Bank, RUSH Foundation and Sida/Norad (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency/the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation).
Dr. Greene and Prime Minister Harris also discussed the fact that the Caribbean community has made excellent strides in reducing the mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV in its member countries.
Last October, Prime Minister Harris said that St. Kitts and Nevis was expected to have zero transmissions of HIV from mother to child by the end of 2015.
On June 30th, 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to receive validation from the World Health Organization that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
According to UNAIDS, “The term ‘validation’ is used to attest that a country has successfully met criteria (internationally set targets for validation) for eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis at a specific point in time, but countries are required to maintain ongoing programmes.”