Douglas, who is also a medical doctor, has recently made the bold pronouncement that the Caribbean Countries working under the PANCAP network are aspiring to be the first region in the World to end the AIDS epidemic.
Douglas’ optimism has gone even further, and he has joined other leaders in suggesting to delegates attending an AIDS conference that a commitment ought to be made to end AIDS by 2030. The pledge, Douglas said, is in keeping with the Melbourne Declaration which was signed by him on behalf of St. Kitts and Nevis.
However, Prime Minister Douglas noted that the formulation on AIDS in the proposed SAMOA declaration to be approved at the Third Small Island Development States (SIDS Conference) was inadequate.
A government release in Basseterre quotes Douglas as proposing six key messages to help address current challenges affecting the fight against the dreaded disease.
These include consolidating the alliance to jointly eliminate poverty and HIV; creating viable partnerships aimed at sustainable development; sustaining and reconfiguring the unfinished Millennium Development Goals within the post 2015 sustainable Development Goals; moving beyond the MDGs with resolve to end the AIDS epidemic; adopting a holistic approach to post 2015 global health applying the lessons learned from the AIDS response; and making Justice for All a fundamental requirement for getting to Zero discrimination as the ultimate of human development.
Dr. Douglas said that while these messages are by no means inclusive, “they at least point in the direction of highlighting those issues of human development which the AIDS movement has illustrated through discussions at these biannual Conferences.”
In noting that in the PANCAP Justice for All programme, makes provision for more national consultations, and that CARICOM Heads confirmed their commitment to eliminating AIDS related stigma and discrimination, he felt confident that opening up the debates on sexual orientation, sexual and reproductive health and rights and laws that discriminate against gays lesbians, and transgender persons will provide an opportunity to clarify misconceptions that erode the march toward achieving human rights.
“These issues cannot be swept under the carpet. We recognize this intractable challenge of getting to Zero discrimination. It is not just a Caribbean challenge but a global challenge. Countries like Australia have shown that these challenges can be overcome by bold leadership supported by relentless activism,” he said.
The 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne has attracted approximately 15,000 participants under the theme “Stepping up the pace”. It aims to ensure that HIV remains on the top of the global agenda and stepping up pace to reverse the trajectory of the epidemic.