Global Fund Strengthens Efforts toward Ending Epidemics

GENEVA – The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria embraced collective action toward ending epidemics, strengthening health systems and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 by 2030.

At the Board’s 40th meeting, partners discussed the Global Fund’s main priority for 2019: its next Replenishment, to be hosted by France in October 2019. The Board reviewed essential elements in making the case for greater investment in health, as well as mobilization campaign plans, to be discussed at greater detail at a Preparatory Replenishment meeting in New Delhi, India, in February 2019.

Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, pointed to five foundational factors: The Global Fund plays a vital and irreplaceable role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goal agenda; enables greater global health security; is a powerful partner in tackling some of the worst aspects of gender inequality; plays a unique role in addressing health inequalities including human rights barriers to health; and has a consistent record of delivering results – saving lives and making progress toward the ultimate goal of ending the epidemics.

“We will not achieve the SDG 3 target of ending the epidemics by simply continuing along the current path,” said Sands. “We need more resources, more innovation, and better execution. Attaining our objectives will require renewed energy and determination from all of us.”

Greater partnerships are essential, in the context of an evolving landscape on global health, where the Global Fund has aligned its work with multiple organizations in the Global Action Plan for SDG 3.

With Replenishment coming, the Board supported a revised approach to private sector engagement and innovative financing. Founded as a public-private partnership, the Global Fund looks forward to creating further partnerships with the private sector for innovative solutions and alternative funding mechanisms.

The Board also launched a selection process for new leadership. Board Chair Aida Kurtovic and Vice-Chair John Simon each complete a two-year term in May 2019.

Reviewing the Global Fund’s work plan for 2019, the Board approved a budget for operating expenses in 2019.

The Board reviewed the Global Fund’s strategic performance framework and key performance indicators, providing an overview of progress towards the Global Fund’s strategy targets and objectives, oversight of global and regional disease trends, and Global Fund grant and corporate performance.

A special session on human rights addressed the multiple barriers to accessing health services that are faced by key and vulnerable populations. Advocates from Costa Rica, South Africa, and Ukraine brought the session to life with personal experiences on the front lines of their work to protect the right to health. The Global Fund has taken steps toward embedding human rights components into core programming, yet human rights barriers to health remain serious in many countries, and partners uniformly agreed that much more needs to be done.

Another special session featured youth advocates who showcased work on advocacy and inclusion of young people in global health work, including capacity development tools and approaches developed and implemented by and for young people.

It was the first Global Fund Board meeting to be held at Geneva’s Global Health Campus, a building shared by the Global Fund; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Unitaid; Stop TB and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

The Board meeting closed with a special moment to honor the memory and contributions of Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, who died in Switzerland in August 2018 and who played a leading role in the creation and ongoing support of the Global Fund.


Helpful links:

The Global Fund Strategy 2017-2022


Timothy Austin
Communications Specialist
PANCAP Coordinating Unit
CARICOM Secretariat
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana
Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit

PANCAP Director reacts to ruling by  Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

The decision

On Tuesday, 13 November 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice delivered its decision in the case of McEwan and others v Attorney General of Guyana. The CCJ is Guyana’s final court of appeal.

The Court ordered that Section 153(1)(xlvii) be struck from the laws of Guyana and that costs are to be awarded to the appellants in the appeal before the CCJ and in the courts below.

A panel of five judges heard oral arguments in the case on June 28, 2018: the Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders, President, the Hon. Mr. Jacob Wit, the Hon Mr. Justice Winston Anderson, the Hon. Mme Justice Maureen Ragnauth-Lee and the Hon. Mr. Justice Denys Barrow.

The video recording of the four hour hearing is available at:


On 6 February 2009, seven persons were arrested under the 1893 Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act section 153 (1) (xlvii) for being a “man’, and in ‘any public way or public place’ and for ‘any improper purpose’, appearing in ‘female attire’, which is a summary offence. They spent the weekend locked up at Brickdam Police Station in Georgetown.

“Man” under this summary offense has been treated by state officials as including persons whose birth certificates describe them as “male” and who identify as transgender or trans women.

The Acting Chief Magistrate hearing the case on 9 February 2009 in the Georgetown Magistrates Court, told the seven that they were confused about their sexuality and that they were men, not women, and advised them to go to church.’ They were convicted and ordered to pay a fine of GUY $7,500 each.

In 2010, four of the arrested persons—Gulliver (Quincy) McEwan, Angel (Seon) Clarke, Peaches (Joseph) Fraser and Isabella (Seyon) Persaud—and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), filed a constitutional action arguing that the law was inconsistent with the Guyana Constitution 1980. All four litigants identify as trans persons.

Their main argument was that this 1893 vagrancy law, which uses terms like ‘improper purpose’, ‘male attire’ and ‘female attire’, is very vague and fails to “give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.”

“… legal provisions which interfere with individual rights must be formulated with sufficient precision to enable a citizen to regulate his conduct.”

Observer Publications v Matthew, Privy Council, appeal from Antigua and Barbuda, 2001

The litigants also argued that the law violated the right to freedom of expression since clothing is a form of expression that communicates ideas and representations of personality, identity, and beliefs. They also argued that the law violated the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law and non-discrimination and they challenged the conduct of the magistrate.


The High Court in 2013 and Court of Appeal in 2017 did not accept these arguments and they struck out SASOD as an applicant in the case. One of the reasons given by both courts for dismissing the case is their conclusion this 1893 colonial law enjoys the protection of the Constitution’s saving law clause. That savings law clause limits human rights-related constitutional challenges to laws that were in force before the date the 1980 Constitution came into effect.

Both Guyana courts affirmed that giving expression to one’s gender identity through clothing was not itself a crime. To constitute a crime, the expression must be in public for an ‘improper purpose’ according to then Chief Justice (ag.) Chang.

This response, though positive, did not satisfy the Guyana trans community which remained concerned about the vagueness of this offense, the unrestricted discretion it gives the police to say what the law means and its potential for discriminatory application.

“The Chief Justice was relatively clear that once you are expressing your gender identity, it’s not criminal …. But the law really stifles us, because what could be an improper purpose? The trans community is very worried, and still fearful of arrests, in light of this decision.”

–Gulliver McEwan, first named Appellant, Director, and co-founder of Guyana Trans United (GTU)


On June 28, 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), based in Trinidad, heard arguments in the appeal from McEwan and the other appellants about this post-emancipation vagrancy law.

The main arguments presented by the appellants are:

  • That 1893 cross-dressing offense, a vagrancy law, is vague; it is not formulated with sufficient precision to allow the ordinary person to regulate his or her conduct.
  •  The cross-dressing offense violates the fundamental rights of McEwan and the other litigants to freedom of expression and equality and non-discrimination.
  • The Magistrate’s exhortations to the appellants that they were confused about their sexuality and must attend church and give their lives to Christ breached their fundamental rights to protection of the law, freedom of conscience and non-discrimination.
  • SASOD was permitted to appear in its own right or in a representative capacity under the Constitution and it was no answer that persons affected by the law were already litigating since the law impacted a far greater community than the four litigants.
  • The savings law clause does not prevent the courts from reviewing this 125-year-old law because that savings clause does not protect laws that violate fundamental constitutional law principles like the rule of law or separation of powers, among other reasons.


The four litigants who were all present at the CCJ hearing on June 28, were represented by attorneys-at-law Douglas Mendes, S.C. (Trinidad and Tobago), lead counsel, and C.A. Nigel Hughes (Guyana), Mishka Puran (Guyana), Clay Hackett (Trinidad and Tobago) and Isat Buchanan (Jamaica). Solicitor General Kim Kyte-Thomas, Kamal Ramkarran, and Selwyn Pieters represented the Attorney General.

In addition to the four litigants, over twenty representatives from civil society organizations and universities were present to observe the proceedings. Representatives of the Faculty of Law The UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP), which has been involved from the outset of the case, were also present.

One of the major hurdles for the appellants in their challenge to the 125-year old law was the existence of a savings law clause in the Constitution. Mendes SC began his presentation on June 28 by noting the groundbreaking decision of the CCJ the day before, on Wednesday, June 27—the case of Nervais and Severin v AG of Barbados—which significantly limits the negative impact of savings law clauses in cases challenging colonial laws. In that case, the CCJ declared that the mandatory death penalty in Barbados was unconstitutional and that the savings law clause was not a barrier to that declaration.

In the main, both sides appeared to agree that dress consistent with one’s gender identity, even if that identity is different from the sex assigned at birth, was wholly legal. As a result, the focus of the hearing became whether the term, “improper purpose” was sufficiently certain to allow ordinary persons to know exactly what was being prohibited. In his comments, Justice Wit emphasized that the test must be based on ordinary citizens as the standard and not legal experts, and charges should stem from crimes and not one’s manner of dress.

Mendes SC in his presentation argued that criminalizing just thought—an “improper purpose”—was impermissible. And he also pointed out the thought of only some (“man” in “female attire”/ “woman” in “male attire”) was criminalized. No offense was committed if a “man” was dressed in “male attire” for an “improper purpose”; likewise if a “woman” was dressed in “female attire” for an “improper purpose”.

The State suggested that any arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of this law could be addressed through appeals and applications for judicial review. During the hearing, President Saunders raised the question of whether transgender persons who are not of great means or social influence may lack meaningful access to these procedures and thereby be at risk if the law is not sufficiently certain.


This constitutional law and human rights case will have great significance because it will consider:

  • The proper scope of saving law clauses for the second time in four months.
  • The significance of unique human rights provisions in the Guyana Constitution that expand equality rights and incorporate international human rights law.
  • The importance of the principle of the rule of law and the right to due process in Caribbean constitutions, and their insistence that criminal laws must be ‘certain’ about what they are prohibiting.
  • The impact of the law on the fundamental rights of a group that has faced discrimination and social exclusion—gender non-conforming and transgender persons.

Legal protection and social acceptance should be accorded to the LGBT community

By Pat Dyal 

In Guyana and Western societies as a whole, little serious and constructive attention had been paid to those persons of different sexual orientation until much after World War II. Such persons were never mentioned or discussed in polite society or conversation. The celebrated case of Oscar Wilde, the great writer, was well-known.

Most persons felt, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, that the justification for his imprisonment for homosexuality could not be disputed though it was deeply regretted that the career of one of the most brilliant writers in the English Language and one who could have contributed even more to world literature should have been destroyed by his imprisonment.

Though there was apparent calm on the homosexual question, there always existed a deep underground of violence, harassment and vicious persecution of homosexuals which, from time to time, come into the open.

After World War II, sociologists, medical doctors, scientists, human rights activists and persons of compassion began to speak out about the plight of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons (LGBT). Vast numbers of people all over the western world began to feel the guilt of being complicit in the violent persecution, human rights violations, terrorization and generally unacceptable barbarism which were being imposed on a number of innocent fellow-citizens and which they discovered for the first time.

Accordingly, in several developed countries, the laws affecting LGBT people were reformed and they were given protection and rights they had never enjoyed before. This trend is gradually beginning to affect the developing countries, several of which are now mooting legislative reform.

In Guyana, the Human Rights Institute issued a Report on LGBT persons which gave instances of cruel and horrific violence meted out to such persons. These range from murder to being shunned and disowned by one’s family.

Despite the exposure of the wrongs and injustices which LGBT persons suffer, there is still a strong body of persons who genuinely believe that these people are cursed by God and that their sufferings are divinely ordained for their alleged wickedness. They strongly believe that extending tolerance to LGBT persons will destroy society, and they often quote the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah to support their belief.

This harsh attitude towards LGBT persons has its roots in the Semitic faiths. In East Asian faiths such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Hinduism, LGBT persons are never a special issue and coexist with all others without any special attention being paid to them.

In the Indian sub-continent, for example, LGBT persons are quietly given a special place in society. One of the common names by which such groups are known is ‘Hijerin’, a term which is descriptive rather than pejorative.

The Hijerin are fully accepted in certain professions as singers and dancers though, no one is perturbed if Hijerin people are engaged in other employment. The Hijerin are almost regarded as a third sex. There is no negative or repulsive profiling of such groups in Asian societies unlike in western societies.

The tolerance and indeed acceptance which Asian societies accorded to LGBT persons over centuries has not led to the collapse of such societies nor has the wrath of God been especially inflicted on them. Indeed, over the last generation, Asian countries such as India and China have been growing in wealth, power and cohesion.

African societies which are still affiliated to their own ancient indigenous religions, and which have not been influenced by the Semitic faiths of Christianity and Islam, tend to be tolerant of LGBT persons and accord them acceptance. There is no LGBT issue.

Asian countries, though they accord social acceptance to LGBT persons, have been gradually adopting Western legislation thus strengthening the protection of this group. India, for instance, through its Supreme Court, has recently made same-sex marriages legal.

Though the focus of progressive Western governments is to establish and extend legal protection, social acceptance is very uneven and needs to be cultivated. This could be approached through the education system where the myths relating to LGBT persons are exposed and the rational and scientific reasons for the existence of the LGBT orientation are taught. If some religious leaders are brought on board, it could help to quicken social acceptance. In Guyana, the movement towards social acceptance and full legal protection is now irreversible and we need to work single-pointedly towards the achievement of a more humane society.

Regional Meeting on Ending AIDS in the Caribbean: Expanding Equitable, Effective, Innovative and Sustainable HIV Responses towards the 2020 Fast Track Targets on the way to Elimination held in Kingston, Jamaica – 1 November 2018

Thursday, 1 November 2018 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) hosted the Regional meeting on Ending AIDS in the Caribbean: expanding equitable, effective, innovative and sustainable HIV responses towards the 2020 Fast Track targets on the way to elimination in Kingston, Jamaica on 1 and 2 November 2018.    

The purpose of the meeting is to sensitize Caribbean stakeholders on policy approaches that are required to reduce health inequalities.  The meeting encompasses the creation of a set of concrete actions to implement the Call To Action that emanated from the Third Latin America and Caribbean Forum on HIV and Sustainability (10 November 2017) for inclusion in the post 2018  Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF). These actions will support expanding equitable access to health and social services while strengthening health system responses to HIV and its sustainability.

Mr. Dereck Springer, Director of PANCAP welcomed participants and shared the expectations of the meeting. In her opening remarks, Sannia Sutherland, Programme Coordinator, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) highlighted that civil society groups have been increasingly advocating for mechanisms to address issues that affect key populations and increased accountability.

She stated, “We have been working assiduously to promote the legal empowerment of key populations (KPs) to improve access to health and justice and reduce human rights violations with a view to promoting an enabling environment as we join fast-track efforts”.

Ms. Sutherland underscored that throughout the Caribbean, Community-based organizations (CBOs) and the communities they work in are key players in the delivery of health services, as they have unique advantages in advocacy, demand creation and linkage of communities to services, building an understanding of what treatment, prevention, care and support are, and keeping governments, and donors accountable. However, they often deliver services without stable and predictable funding or systemic linkages to formal public health facilities.

She further stated that building effective responses to priority health challenges with Key Populations, particularly in the face of the 90-90-90 commitments is a key priority for all civil society groups that work in the trenches contributing to the HIV response in the region.

She noted that current actions by stakeholders to end AIDS included strengthening linkages throughout the Treatment Cascade, improving linkages to reach Key Populations, defining further and implementing task shifting and task sharing policies, considering the added value of CBO Interventions at each step in the Treatment Cascade and reaching underserved Youth.

“A range of human rights violations impact key populations”, stated Ms. Sutherland,  “Multiple reports have documented how states have failed to protect key populations, from violence and other human rights violations, undermining their own HIV prevention efforts”.

She emphasized that despite the interventions, stigma and discrimination in health services is widespread, limiting key populations’ access to services. “Weak justice systems and a limited culture of rights litigation result in impunity. More generally, the application of laws and policies allow the use of arbitrary interpretations of laws to affect operational policies, which in turn limit access to services”, stated Ms. Sutherland.

Dr. James Guwani, Team Leader and Senior Advisor, Fast Track, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Caribbean Sub-Regional Office underscored that the Regional Meeting on Ending AIDS falls at the halfway point to 2020.  “That’s a deadline the global community agreed upon for meeting targets that will set us on a course to end the AIDS epidemic”, stated Dr. Guwani.  He congratulated PANCAP Director, Dereck Springer, as well as PAHO for their leadership in sharing the vision of a region without AIDS. He noted that their commitment to exploring the scientific as well as social dimensions of the challenge is invaluable, particularly now that the 2020 Fast Track target is approaching.

He further stated that through the 2016 Political Declaration on ending AIDS, the community of nations has agreed to adopt a Fast-Track strategy that involves increasing prevention, testing, and treatment services while working to eliminate stigma and discrimination. He emphasized that central to this goal are the 90-90-90 Treatment Targets.

“Here in the Caribbean, the AIDS response is at a precarious point”, stated Dr. Guwani, “There has been partial success in saving lives and stopping new HIV infections, but the pace of progress is not matching the global ambition.  According to new data published earlier this year in the UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Update, there were an estimated 310,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Caribbean at the end of 2017”.

He informed that 73% of PLHIV in the region were aware of their status while 79% of diagnosed people were on treatment. Dr. Guwani expressed his concern that the region lags behind the world in terms of viral suppression rates. “Our 70% in 2017 compares to a global average of 81%” he emphasized.

He further stated that to reach the targets that will set the Caribbean on track to end AIDS, the region must close the gaps in testing and treatment. “The gap to achieving the testing target – 90% of all people living with HIV diagnosed – was 54, 800 people in 2017,” stated Dr. Guwani, “The gap to achieving the second target – 90% of diagnosed people on treatment – was 74,700 people. And the gap to achieving the third target – 90% of people on treatment virally suppressed – was 103,000 people”.

He urged that the Caribbean must increase its use of proven strategies such as community-led services for early diagnosis, enrolment in treatment, retention in care and treatment adherence. Dr. Guwani advocated that combination prevention must be a priority, with more countries making use of the full arsenal at our disposal to reduce new infections including biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions.

“Make no mistake: stigma and discrimination and restrictive laws and policies continue to be the biggest obstacle to ending AIDS in the Caribbean, particularly for young people and members of key population communities,” stated Dr. Guwani, “And so the Justice for All meeting hosted here in Kingston over the last couple of days presented a critical opportunity for further collaboration between governments, civil society and the faith community towards building an enabling environment”.

He emphasized that addressing all these issues requires financial investments and alluded to the fact that the Caribbean AIDS response is experiencing a funding crisis.  Dr. Guwani shared that between 2006 and 2017 international resources in the region decreased by 16%.  In 2017, just under half of the money needed to finance the achievement of the Fast Track programme in the region was not available.

He advocated that even as stakeholders negotiate with international partners, a message must be sent to governments within the region that there must be full funding for the AIDS response.

In her keynote address, Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PAHO/WHO Representative to Jamaica, Bermuda and The Cayman Islands stated that she was optimistic that HIV and AIDS will not be epidemics much longer, and at that time, the region will be proud to be part of initiatives like the Regional Meeting, being supportive players in the response.

She highlighted that the UNAIDS Global AIDS Monitoring database shows that the Caribbean region has seen a 18% reduction in new infections of HIV and 23% reduction in the number of AIDS-related deaths this year.

“Once, thought to be too ambitious, the Caribbean region now leads the world in the elimination of Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV and syphilis”, stated Dr. Theodore-Gandi, “Currently, 7 out of the 11 countries were validated globally for EMTCT, and 7 out of the 8 countries achieving dual elimination of HIV and syphilis are from the Caribbean. These are inspiring steps toward ending the epidemic”.

She advocated that winning the fight against AIDS, however, requires an appreciation of the factors outside of health that also drive the epidemic.  She stated that “the Sustainable Development Goal 3, ‘good health and well-being’ aims to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. It includes the target 3.3, which specifically states that by 2030, [we will] end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria…’ But meeting the targets of the other 17 SDGs will also contribute significantly to ending AIDS, as they too provide guidance that supports health and well-being in a holistic way”.

Dr. Theodore-Gandi highlighted that by ending poverty and hunger, SDGs 1 and 2, the region will be supporting PLHIV and their families with the capacity to better manage their lives and adhere to treatment. She emphasized that by supporting high-quality education for all, SDG 4, the region will be supporting educational models where boys and girls are empowered with the information necessary to prevent diseases and STIs like HIV, thereby improving health and health equity.

“And of course, SDG 5 – gender equality; the fight against AIDS will never be won in this region if we fail to address gender inequities, including violence against women and girls,” stated Dr. Theodore-Gandi.

She further stated that if the region is to reduce inequalities, SDG 10, there must be an agreement that the principles of Universal Health also include PLHIV, men who have sex with men, women, and girls, sex workers, persons of transgender experience, persons incarcerated, people living with disabilities and all populations most-at-risk. She advocated that if the region is to address the underlying factors that leave people vulnerable to HIV infection, no person or group should be left behind.

Dr. Theodore-Gandi underscored that ending AIDS in the Caribbean will require addressing these gaps, as well as the challenges that continue to persist in accessing essential HIV services. While some 73% of PLHIV were aware of their HIV status at the end of 2017, only 57% were accessing antiretroviral treatment and 40% were virally suppressed. Men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender persons, and their sexual partners, represent approximately 70% of new cases. In addition, 1 in every 3 new cases occurs in young people 15 to 24 years old.

“Let us be responsive to this evidence before us. The data suggests that more concerted and collective efforts are needed in the treatment and viral suppression areas of our HIV cascade”, stated Dr. Theodore-Gandi “Equitable access, new and innovative approaches, high-impact, evidence-based interventions and appropriate use of technologies, will help contribute to improved efficiency and sustainability in these areas”.

She advocated that an effective HIV response is also a human rights-based response and that to move the region’s HIV response from a phase of plateau to a place of sustained high impact, some countries must accelerate the removal of laws which criminalize PLHIV and key populations. “I encourage all stakeholders of political influence to recognize their role in creating an enabling policy and legal environment which support an effective response to HIV prevention, care and treatment services for all who need them,” stated Dr. Theodore-Gandi.

She warned that the evidence is conclusive that failing to do this sends PLHIV and key communities into hiding and farther away from the services they need to keep them alive.  She encouraged the participants to build on their existing work and the rich experiences of all stakeholders, taking into strong account the voices of PLHIV, key communities and civil society working in the trenches.

“Let us be ‘realistically-strategic,’ yet ambitious with our ways forward. Let us identify concrete and measurable actions.  Let our decisions foster increased access to health and social services. Let them inspire strengthened engagement of PLHIV, key populations, as well as inter-ministerial involvement in the response. Let us also prioritize the strengthening of integrated and sustainable health systems, which are better equipped to respond to HIV and related health issues across our Caribbean countries and territories, including small island states,” stated Dr. Theodore-Gandi.

She highlighted that with a recognition of the SDGs and a respect for human rights and being guided by countries’ data, she has no doubt that at the end of the Regional Meeting, the Caribbean would have been several steps closer to a rapid expansion of an equitable, effective, innovative and sustainable HIV response toward the 2020 Fast Track Targets and closer to ending AIDS by 2030 and for generations to come.

Ministers of government, parliamentarians, legislators, permanent secretaries, chief medical officers, and national AIDS programme managers from over 16 countries as well as regional and national representatives from civil society, and development partners are participating in the Regional Meeting.  The forum will conclude on 2 November 2018 with strategic steps to support expanding equal access to health and social services and strengthening health system responses to HIV and its sustainability.

– ENDS –

 Helpful links:

 Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS –

 Haiti Call to Action –

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organizations, regional institutions and organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximize efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilizes resources and build capacity of partners.

Minister Of Justice, Jamaica, Reinforces Country’s Commitment to the Protection Of Human Rights at Opening Of EDF – PANCAP Regional Meeting

Tuesday, 30 October 2018 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), with funding from the CARIFORUM 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Programme of Support for Wider Caribbean Cooperation commenced the Regional Meeting for Advancing Recommendations for Addressing Gaps in the Human Rights Response under the PANCAP Justice For All Programme in Kingston, Jamaica on 30 October 2018.

In opening remarks, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska – European Union Representative, explained that the Regional Meeting is part of an EU funded programme of about 400,000 EUR over the period October 2017 to April 2019, which supports advocacy efforts undertaken by the PANCAP, through its “Justice for All Programme”. She highlighted that the objective of the support to PANCAP is to strengthen the coordination on Human Rights issues to reduce HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination through structured and continuous dialogue. “This action is expected to accelerate the human rights agenda across the Wider Caribbean Region, and, more specifically to build upon the work already initiated with several stakeholders, including parliamentarians and faith leaders under the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS and Global Fund support”, stated Ambassador Wasilewska.

She emphasized that the European Union actively promotes and defends human rights both within its borders and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries. In Jamaica, for example, within the last 2 years, the EU Delegation has provided grant contracts valuing over 350,000 EUR to support the work of the “Jamaica AIDS Support for Life” and “Eve for Life”, both of which work with vulnerable populations to provide services that prevent HIV infections and treat with parties who have already contracted HIV.

“Concretely, the EU’s commitment to providing wide range support for work with various vulnerable groups translates into engagement in local, regional and multilateral fora and into financial supports to efforts, for example, by regional organizations to further the human rights and democracy agenda”, stated Ambassador Wasilewska.

The Ambassador stated that the Regional Meeting illustrates the EU’s commitment to support PANCAP’s efforts towards that objective, and which, by the end of the meeting, should translate into the design of a coordinated response tailor-made for the region that provides an effective and durable response to HIV in the Region.

She further stated that the event, which highlighted the results of the study funded through the EU’s support on the human rights status in the region, could not be more timely.

“Indeed, on 10 December 2018, we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” stated Ambassador Wasilewska, “The respect of human rights is a collective problem, and we need to come together, as you do today, to develop a collective solution. This is even more important at a time when we are witnessing too many occurrences of human rights violations all around the world”.

She further stated it was time for the world to embrace the importance of human rights. “They improve lives for millions of people; they strengthen societies and charter the path for a better collective future for humanity. Acting in their favor is acting for ourselves, for our children and future generations”.

“From a personal perspective, I speak to you today not just as an EU representative but also as a mother. My hope is that my child will live in a world that is free of HIV and in a world where the respect of human rights is not an issue any longer. Looking back at history but also the present, this hope may seem utopic but this is no reason to disengage”, stated the Ambassador.

She urged the participants to allow their discussions and actions to contribute to the achievement of eliminating stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. She emphasized that such an achievement will require a strengthened and collective resolve across all sectors of society, aimed at ensuring that zero stigma and discrimination are part of the equation for zero risk for HIV exposure.

Dr. John Edward Greene, PANCAP Advisor stated that the meeting comes at a time when the world is engaged in advancing the targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – reducing poverty, promoting HIV within the context of integrated health, tackling the challenges of Climate Change and building resilient communities, quality education, gender equality, social justice, among others. He stated that it was most fitting that this meeting is focusing on filling essential gaps in the human rights response as a priority of the PANCAP Justice for All Programme, which parallels the targets in SDG #16.

Dr Greene stated, “This regional meeting is indeed a celebration of the foresight of the EU and of functional cooperation, of which PANCAP is one of the clearest manifestations. But the genesis of the tenth EDF grant that supports this significant regional meeting dates back to 2001 when the EU awarded PANCAP an institutional Strengthening Grant of 10 million Euros which established the PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU) and through the PCU, sustainable support for core PANCAP partners — the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+) — and contributed to the formation of University of the West Indies, Caribbean Health Leadership Institute (CHLI) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) HIV Programme. It is to be noted that the PANCAP Model also extended to the French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCOR) and the UK and Netherlands Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)”.

He explained that by paying attention to institutional strengthening the EU provided PANCAP with the building blocks for establishing a unique regional partnership comprising governments, civil society, People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and developing agencies in a governance structure that attracted support from USAID, DFID, Canada, Germany among others and leading the UN to designate PANCAP as an international best practice in 2004.

Dr Greene emphasized that this was well deserved as it was PANCAP with technical support from UNAIDS and PAHO/WHO that created history by negotiating the first ever massive 90% reduction in the price of ARVs from $12,500 to approximately $1,000 per person This agreement was signed in Barcelona in 2002 and by 2004 triggered further price reductions spare-headed by the Clinton Foundation that joined PANCAP.

Dr Greene highlighted that the 10th EDF Wider Caribbean Cooperation Programme was proposed at the Clovis Beauregard Seminar on Regional Cooperation in the Caribbean (November 2005). It was agreed that task forces would be established in the areas of natural disaster management, HIV and AIDS, trade and investment and interconnection. These task forces were established and have had varying levels of success.

He congratulated Dereck Springer, the PANCAP Director, for his “creative leadership in marshaling PANCAP Policy and Strategy Working Group on Stigma and Discrimination (PSWG) to take corrective action by providing oversight for the implementation of the PANCAP Justice for All and Human Rights Roadmap”.

Dr Greene stated that he was enthusiastic about collaborating with the PANCAP Director in implementing The PANCAP JFA Roadmap, which he referred to as a living document that builds on and advances the aforementioned initiatives. He explained that since its inauguration in 2014 it has established national faith leaders and parliamentarians’ networks for sustaining their respective responses. “PANCAP has created a multi-stakeholders framework of faith leaders, parliamentarians, civil society, Youth, Key populations including LGBTI, and has initiated a series of national and regional forums,” stated Dr Greene.

He stated that the meeting continues the vital work of facilitating collaboration between key populations and stakeholders. “This initiative provides parliamentarians with support for their representational, legislative, and oversight roles; Faith leaders networks are being bolstered to advance contributions to ending AIDS and increasingly PLHIV and Key populations are playing a collaborative rather than a combative role in the collective advocacy for the elimination of stigma and discrimination and achieving health for all” highlighted Dr Greene.

He emphasized that this is the impetus on which the 10th EDF aims to build. He explained that the project provides an opportunity for key stakeholders to collaborate and take action to eliminate stigma and discrimination.

He urged the participants to use the meeting to develop a mantra for JFA and key actions that can be implemented to protect human rights and social justice in the region. “Let us move toward celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December by ensuring that this consultation helps this region to make Human Rights for All a reality,” concluded Dr Greene.

Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat highlighted that advocacy by People Living with and affected by HIV has been critical to the progress made in response to HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. “Advocacy has sparked action in the face of denialism and indifference, mobilized unprecedented financial resources and enabled communities to participate in designing health services that meet their needs,” stated Dr. Slater.

He emphasized that in the future, advocacy remains crucial to driving sufficient resources, addressing the needs of the people most affected, and holding governments and funders accountable for the concrete results that will lead to ending AIDS as a public health threat.

Dr Slater further highlighted that during the latter part of 2017, PANCAP partners developed a Regional Advocacy Strategy and Plan to guide a coordinated approach to advocacy. He stated that “PANCAP is in a unique position to drive a regional approach to advocacy for several reasons: the demonstrated added value of regional public goods and services to support national-level efforts; a track record in developing and rolling out high quality pilot interventions; capacity to mobilize resources in ways unavailable to individual countries; the broad-based nature of the partnership and engagement of stakeholders across sectors; capacity for managing and coordinating multi-country initiatives; and evidence of the willingness of leaders and policymakers to participate in regional efforts that seek to address difficult issues”.

Dr. Slater explained that a regional approach can leverage demonstrated success in individual countries to catalyze efforts throughout the Region, and this is particularly valuable where it is difficult for national governments to address sensitive issues. He also highlighted that PANCAP’S close relationship to the CARICOM Secretariat provides a good vantage point for aligning with other regional strategies and for shared access to technical expertise and capacity building at the institutional as well as at the individual levels.

In his keynote address, Hon. Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice, Jamaica, stated that the promotion, protection, and enhancement of Human Rights in Jamaica is a primary consideration of the current Government. “To this extent all fundamental rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and they will be upheld” stated Minister Chuck, “However, we must be aware that from time to time there are challenges, even when there are safeguards and this Government will not sit on its laurels and allow these fundamental rights to be breached”.

The Minister emphasized that if these fundamental rights are breached, the law provides for the Office of the Public Defender to take action in a Court of Law.

“At the same time we acknowledge that there are other rights which have been declared in other international arenas such as the European Union, United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to name a few”, stated Minister Chuck, “As is well known, many of these rights are not protected by our Constitution and as such they are controversial within the Jamaica context. This makes the approach in dealing with various human rights issues a difficult one”.

The Minister utilized his keynote address to provide the latest update on what is being done by his Ministry to deal with the issue of human rights, protecting the fundamental rights of all Jamaicans, as well as building upon the work already initiated with various stakeholders.

He stated that the foundation has already been laid for the establishment of a Human Rights Institute. He emphasized that the Charter of Rights, which provides more comprehensive protection for the fundamental rights of Jamaicans, was passed in the Jamaican Parliament.

“The Human Rights Institute will serve to ensure that as we navigate the challenges of our changing society, the rights and freedoms of citizens will always be protected,” stated Minister Chuck.

He further emphasized that “the Jamaican Government will not falter in its commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all Jamaicans are protected. We do so, fully recognizing the besetting challenges due to capacity constraints. For this reason, we continue to attach high importance to the support of our many bilateral and multilateral partners, who have offered technical and other assistance in enhancing national capacities to meet obligations in areas where constraints are often most significant”.

The Regional Meeting will continue tomorrow, 31 October and is expected to result in a number of outcomes which will empower parliamentarians to advocate for the rights of vulnerable populations and to advance the regional human rights agenda within the context of the PANCAP Justice for All Programme with an emphasis on justice systems reform.

– ENDS –

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organizations, regional institutions and organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximize efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilizes resources and build capacity of partners.

– 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Programme of Support for Wider Caribbean Cooperation

Under the 10th (EDF) Programme of Support for Wider Caribbean Cooperation, PANCAP will strengthen coordination on human rights issues in keeping with the Justice For all Roadmap through the HIV and AIDS Thematic Task Force in CARIFORUM.


CARIFORUM refers to the Grouping of Caribbean States, which are signatories of the Georgetown Agreement establishing the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The ACP grouping is composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

CARIFORUM is the recipient of and manages the implementation of Caribbean Regional Indicative Programmes financed by the EDF and Caribbean regional programmes financed by individual Member States of the European Union. It also provides technical assistance to agencies/institutions implementing projects under these programmes.

– European Union

The Member States of the European Union have decided to link together their expertise, resources and destinies. Together, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.

Background to the PANCAP Justice for All (JFA) Roadmap

The PANCAP Justice for All (JFA) Programme was established in September 2013 as a regional response to the UN High-Level Political Declaration (June 2011) designed to reduce AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. The objectives of the JFA Roadmap are:

 Enhancing family life and focusing on those in need
 Increasing access to treatment and affordable medicines
 Reducing gender inequality including violence against women, girls and adolescents
 Promoting prevention with special reference to sexual and reproductive health and rights including age-appropriate sexual education
 Implementing legislative reforms for modifying AIDS-related stigma and discrimination

Helpful links:

PANCAP Justice for All (JFA) programme –

10th European Development Fund Project (EDF) –

Event web page –

Director’s Message – October 2018

I wish to share my sincere gratitude to the USAID-funded Abt Associates Health Finance and Governance (HFG) Project, which ended after six years of technical support to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean and PANCAP. HFG’s support was aimed at advancing national and regional efforts to sustain the response to HIV.

The project added value to the beneficiary countries and PANCAP. Countries were supported to conduct National Health Accounts given that health-spending data is critical for informing health-financing mechanisms as countries aim for universal health coverage, and for sustainable national responses to HIV. Countries were provided with tools for sustainability planning and ministries of health and finance were brought together to plan for domestic resource mobilization and social contracting.

HFG, in collaboration with PEPFAR and UNAIDS, supported countries to develop HIV investment cases and contributed to reframing the dialogue on sustainability and financing to one of country ownership and domestic investment in HIV.

HGF must be lauded for its technical support that enabled PANCAP to develop its first Resource Mobilization Strategy, an essential tool for mobilizing both financial, human and other resources for the implementation of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS and sustainability of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit.

We wish Abt Associates every success in the future and look forward to future collaborations.

With funding from the 10th European Development Fund, PANCAP convened a Parliamentarians Consultation in Paramaribo, Suriname. In delivering the keynote address, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Jennifer Geerling-Simmon, declared that the consultation added value and quality to the work of parliamentarians. She underscored the role of human rights in ensuring access to treatment, care, and support for people living with HIV and key populations.

The Speaker acknowledged the legislative, representational and oversight roles of parliamentarians in ending AIDS and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly 3, 5 and 16.

Parliamentarians reviewed the recommendations of the Legal Environment Assessment and the National Health Accounts and agreed on key short-term actions for addressing them.

Parliamentarians agreed to use the CARICOM Model Anti-Discrimination Legislation to harmonize various pieces of legislation including redress; evaluate the existing Health Care Act with the aim of providing affordable health care to everyone; advocate for the utilization of the Employment Act to address breach of confidentiality; advocate for greater involvement of NGOs in the human rights response; and advocating for attention to persons with disabilities.

In relation to the National Health Accounts, parliamentarians agreed to provide the oversight required for allocating more funding to prevention; improving efficiencies by consolidating and streamlining financial schemes; and increasing domestic mobilization and the share of health spending for HIV.

I am encouraged by the concrete actions that parliamentarians have agreed to take to advance Justice for All in Suriname as well as by their commitment to meet again with the PANCAP Team during the first quarter of 2019 to report on progress.

We now look forward to our consultation with parliamentarians in Belize during the latter part of November 2018.

Caribbean Med Labs Foundation reflects on 10 Years of Achievements 

Image: The CMLF Team, (L-R), Ms. Louise Mathura, Administrative/Finance Assistant, Ms. Valerie Wilson, Director, Ms. Wendy Kitson-Piggott, Laboratory, and Quality Systems Specialist, Dr. Wayne Labastide, Associate

The Caribbean Med Labs Foundation (CMLF) is celebrating 10 Years of pioneering work. Noted for being the Caribbean’s first indigenous NGO devoted to medical laboratory issues, it is important to reflect on the origin of this groundbreaking entity.

CMLF was established in 2008 on request from regional Ministers of Health, in the context of a Caribbean environment that needed such an organization to support Caribbean Governments’ responses to 21st-century public health challenges.

Reflecting on the CMLF’s journey over the last 10 years, the organization can be described as people-centered, inclusive, innovative, cutting-edge, reliable, data-driven and evidence-based.  One of its driving principles has been to encourage a sense of ownership and responsibility among Caribbean stakeholders (or clientele) towards achieving successful public health outcomes.

CMLF has spearheaded transitions in policy, planning and quality improvement for the regional laboratory sector. The organization is proud of its reputation of being very resourceful.  It is usually the first point of contact when laboratory challenges arise. As a result, CMLF has invested in capacity development within the region.

The organization receives significant support from Ministries of Health, which is an indication of how important the work of the CMLF is to the regional public health response.

More importantly, the CMLF is proud of its work with people at all levels within the public health system.  In fact, an integral part of the entity’s operations is a deliberate strategy of fostering cooperation with all public health partners.

Indeed the region cannot mount the type of comprehensive response to 21st-century public health challenges without strong indigenous NGOs.  With the continuing support of current and future partners, CMLF aims to expand their resources, scope, and impact over the next 10 years.

Image: The CMLF Achievements Timeline

To view or download the full timeline, CLICK HERE. 

Health Finance and Governance project helping Region to plan for sustainability of HIV response 

By Sarah Goddard, Abt Associates

The USAID-funded Health Finance and Governance (HFG) project has spent the last six years working with partners in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean to help countries to plan for the sustainability of the HIV response. HFG has supported planning processes to increase inclusivity and build country ownership in developing strategies to mobilize domestic resources to prepare for the transition from Global Fund and PEPFAR funding. This is especially important for civil society organizations (CSOs) working with key populations.

As HFG comes to a close, it is important to reflect on how this work can be used and built upon moving forward. Overall, the sustainability plans for Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago outline strategies to mobilize domestic resources, build partnerships, strengthen the health system, and protect the human rights of people seeking testing, treatment, and care for HIV. These plans are based on data from National Health Accounts estimations, Sustainability Index Dashboard (SID) exercises, conversations with local stakeholders, and meetings with national governments and international partners through a participatory consultation process.

From this planning process it is clear that in order to sustain the HIV response in the Caribbean, it will be critical for governments to work with local CSOs to ensure that resources are available to continue their essential services to their communities. The sustainability plans call for a renewed commitment to a multi-sectoral response that engages new partners and a strengthened coordination role for ministries of health.

For more information on the HFG project’s work with countries in the Caribbean on sustainability planning see

HIV services at your fingertips

Image: National AIDS Commission (NAC) Belize Mobile App

The National AIDS Commission (NAC) Belize has launched the country’s first HIV services mobile App.  As part of the HIV, AIDS, and Tuberculosis (TB) response in Belize, the NAC collaborated with software development firm LXJ Code Belize to develop and launch the App, which is now available on both IOS and Android platforms.

According to the NAC, the app is a readily available source of information on all the major HIV service facilities in the country. It provides the user with real-time data on the nearest health facility, services offered, location, links the user to the service providers’ Facebook and website for more information and provides timely updates on upcoming events from varying partner agencies within Belize’s HIV response. The NAC Health Services App is meant to function as a gateway that links innovation and necessity.
The NAC highlighted that the creation of the App became necessary due to the lack of readily available knowledge on HIV services available in Belize. The commission views this as one of the main barriers to achieving the 90-90-90 Targets as Belizeans have reported not having adequate information on available HIV services.

In 2016, the NAC in collaboration with CODE-IT launched its first app, titled “Infections”. The gaming app was designed to engage users in a fun and interactive gaming experience while imparting key knowledge about HIV and AIDS. This app was a pioneering effort and was recognized as one of the most innovative communication strategies in the region. “Infections” is free for download at the Google Play store.

For more information on both Apps, visit the NAC’s website.

PANCAP Youth Advocacy Updates

ANGUILLA – Youths conduct rapid testing for Caribbean Wellness Week  

Image: CARICOM Youth Ambassador (Anguilla), Devon Carter conducting HIV rapid tests for Caribbean Wellness Day.

The Anguilla National Chronic Disease Unit conducted HIV rapid testing during the Caribbean Wellness Day Health Fair on 28 September 2018. Devon Carter, CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Anguilla, assisted the Unit in the administration of HIV rapid tests.  “I am grateful for the opportunity to practice the skills which I developed from a HIV Rapid Testing and Counselling Certification Training Programme in Anguilla,” stated Devon.

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – CARICOM Youth Ambassadors certified as Voluntary HIV and AIDS Counselling and Testing Providers

Image: CARICOM Youth Ambassadors SVG committee members, Shadyn McLean and K-Danna Charles with representatives of the National AIDS Secretariat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, SVG committee members, K-Danna Charles, and Shadyn McLean participated in a four-day workshop on “Voluntary Counselling and Testing for HIV” hosted by the National AIDS Programme Secretariat,  Ministry of Health and the Environment on 25 – 28 September in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They are now Qualified Voluntary HIV and AIDS Counselling and Testing Providers.  PANCAP congratulates the Youth Ambassadors on taking this bold step in acquiring skills to provide vulnerable populations with essential health services.

REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – Youth Ambassadors launch initiative focused on a preventative approach to HIV

Image: CYAs Terez Lord and Dexter Wilson

In September, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, Terez Lord and Dexter Wilson embarked on a sensitization forum premised on a preventative approach to HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).  The forum was held during “Guild Fest – Orientation Week” and hosted by The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Guild of Students.

The initiative was a collaboration between Trojan Condoms, the University of the West Indies Student Guild, the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN). The goal was to create awareness of HIV prevention and other STIs as well as early and unplanned pregnancy in youth. The activity aimed to reinforce a sense of trust in the integrity and effectiveness of consistent and proper condom use and dispel the commonly held misconceptions surrounding condom use, access, affordability, and reduced pleasure.

In an invited comment, Terez Lord stated, “We launched this project at the orientation week, Guild Fest at the beginning of the new academic school year to capture existing as well as new tertiary students who expressed a keen interest in learning about responsible sexual behavior and receiving free condoms. It was thoroughly engaging and impactful.”

REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – CARICOM Youth Ambassadors engage in high-level advocacy for Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Image: CYA Terez Lord

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago CARICOM Youth Ambassador (CYA), Terez Lord attended the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) High-Level Meeting on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) integration into Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) on behalf of  PANCAP and the CARICOM  Youth Ambassadors Corps.

Terez attended to specifically address the mandate of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme regarding the health of adolescents and youth.

The specific purpose of the meeting was to identify the challenges faced by all stakeholders,  acknowledge regional best practices which can be implemented and derive a plan of action to improve the integration and quality delivery of CSE through HLFE.