The Learning Exchange allowed me to explore the possibility of replicating best practices and evidence-based interventions from the Dominican Republic in the OECS countries. Particularly strategies related to HIV prevention, PrEP, systems for dealing with intravenous drug use habits and changing legislation to allow key populations to access health. It was evident that these changes and approaches are propelling a new and dynamic approach to HIV prevention in the Dominican Republic. It is worth exploring whether these approaches can be utilised effectively in smaller Caribbean islands.
During the learning exchange, I noted that tackling vulnerable populations with capacity building, advocacy, and social and behavioural change communication is making headway in controlling the epidemic.
I was particularly impressed with the provision of HIV and other health services for migrants. This is an approach that OECS countries should consider implementing. The Caribbean landscape as it relates to migration is slowly changing, and there is the need to establish similar practices and prevention strategies for the region. We are slowly shifting from being isolated territories, but one cultural, social and economic region. The evidence of movement of people from one country to the other signifies a changing paradigm in the region. If we all stand separated, we will fall separated, but if we stand together, we will thrive together.