Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, has assumed the role as Chair of the 14-year-old Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP). Prime Minister Harris is the Lead Head for Human Resources, Health and HIV in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Quasi Cabinet.
The Prime Minister and his Minister of State for Health and Gender Affairs, Senator Wendy Phipps, were fully briefed on 7 May by representatives of CARICOM and PANCAP, as well as by the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr Edward Greene. The briefing occurred during the Future of the Caribbean Forum in Trinidad and Tobago at which the Prime Minister participated in a leadership Panel ‘Thinking for New Times.’
One of PANCAP’s main issues on which the Prime Minister will focus is supporting the resource mobilisation priorities of PANCAP as elaborated in its Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework 2014-2018. These include treatment, prevention and human rights, all of which complement the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) international targets for fast-tracking the response for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Prime Minister has also agreed to advocate for sustainable financing based on development criteria rather than GDP which places countries like those in the Caribbean at a disadvantage in accessing multilateral support. This, he agreed, applied not only to HIV, but to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and other health and development issues.
At the end of the briefing session, Prime Minister Harris stated that he would lend his voice to the international lobby aimed at achieving access to affordable treatment as a human right. In this regard, he will monitor with interest the progress of the PANCAP network in implementing a revamped Justice For All programme that is structured around ‘what can stakeholders in the Region do to end the AIDS epidemic?’
He stated that he was pleased to see the advances that are being made and urged that teh Partners all work to assure that the Caribbean becomes the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The Prime Minister also visited the campus of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Federation Park, Port-of-Spain Trinidad and planted a tree of hope along with the CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque. He referred to the necessity for fostering complementarity of policies between CARPHA and PANCAP if the Nassau Declaration, ‘the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region’ is to be meaningful.
PANCAP is a sixty-two member Partnership which was established by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2001 to respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean.