Douglas said that they are engaged with their colleagues in Latin America and also those governments in Europe to ensure that there is a concerted effort to fight the dreaded disease.
The Prime Minister, who has been designated by the CARICOM to act as their main spokesman on health said, “We can only do so with a concerted effort to ensure that the HIV programmes are adequately funded. We can only do so, in this era of scarce resources only if we embark on a judicious process of shared responsibility, engaging the private sector, placing emphasis on accountability and keeping the commitments to accelerate the response for investments in treatment and prevention. We can do so, by stepping up the demands for the elimination of stigma and discrimination in keeping with the fundamental principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is ‘equality for all’.”
Douglas made his address at a time when the 10th anniversary of the XIV AIDS Conference was being commemorated; saying it is particularly significant for him and for the Caribbean.
He described it as a “landmark,” recalling that he had the honour to sign the Agreement with six pharmaceutical companies in Barcelona, triggering a new era of affordable drugs for people in the Caribbean as well as in other regions that followed its example.
“So much so that after 10 years, and with the combination of scientific- biomedical and behavioural – research; passionate advocacy of civil society and creative leadership, we can truly and optimistically pronounce the aspirational goal to achieve an AIDS-free generation,” he told the president of the Spanish Parliament, other elected officials as well as hundreds of delegates including Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The Prime Minister indicated that over the past decade “AIDS-related deaths have decreased by some 50%, and more people living with AIDS have access to anti-retroviral drugs. There is greater awareness of the need to increase access to treatment for the most at- risk populations and to make special provision for the poor and vulnerable. In this regard, the Governments of the Caribbean in collaboration with UNAIDS are pursuing an investment strategy for financing of HIV.” Such a strategy is essential for identifying priorities, measurable targets and tangible results, said the Prime Minister.
It has also been the aim to achieve the following targets by 2015: the elimination of mother-to-child transmission; increased access to care and treatment by 80%; reduction of new infections by 50%; and acceleration of the agenda to achieve human rights for PLHIV including the elimination of travel restrictions for People living with HIV/AIDS,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader, who is also the prime ministerial spokesman of HIV/AIDS and other health issues within the Caribbean Community.
Prime Minister Douglas pointed out that these targets are quite consistent with those in the Political Declaration of the UN High Level Meeting in June 2011.