Antigua & Barbuda is among several Caricom countries set to benefit from technical support provided by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Caribbean region’s Partnership Framework (PF) for HIV/AIDS.
The US Embassy in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean recently hosted the First Annual PEPFAR Caribbean Regional Meeting and AIDS Programme Officer Delcora Williams who attended the meeting said focus was placed on capacity building, sustainability and country ownership.
“What they realised is that if each country’s stakeholders do not own the programme … the success of these programmes will not occur,” Williams said. “Secondly, they were looking at sustainability so that when PEPFAR is finished the programme will not go to the ground. Mechanism will be put in place so that the programme will continue.”
For Antigua & Barbuda, PEPFAR will provide technical assistance in areas such as prevention, lab strengthening, strategic information, and strengthening health systems.
“At the end of it I think persons agree that if we get technical support, when the technical persons come we would like to have a person at our local level to work along with this person, so that the knowledge is transferred, so that when that person leaves somebody will already be the head of this programme locally and so that is how we see sustainability will occur,” Williams added.
The objectives of the meeting were to review successes and lessons learned in HIV/AIDS programming in the region and the Partnership Framework process. The two-day session also looked at changing the environment of the Caribbean that impact the health systems that could present challenges for the PF.
The meeting brought together US Government officials, Caribbean ministers of health, permanent secretaries, and technical working groups. They in turn worked in groups to look at each nation’s roles and responsibilities as governments seek to address the challenges impacting their health systems and to share strategies to maximise the available resources.
The discussion identified the ways in which the chiefs of missions can support the commitment to the PF, prioritise HIV/AIDS in their overall health programmes and identify barriers to the implementation of the PF activities.
St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Haiti are among some of the Caricom countries that will also benefit from the technical support being offered by PEPFAR.
Participants included Global AIDS Co-ordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, health ministers from Caricom and the Dominican Republic, nine US chiefs of mission, high-level representatives from 12 PF countries and three bi-lateral country programmes, Caricom and OECS representatives, and other key stakeholders.