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Director’s Message | August – September 2018Director advocates for inclusion of National AIDS Programme Managers at CCAS Summit

September 11, 2018

The 15th Caribbean Cytometry and Analytical Society (CCAS) Expert Summit, which was convened on 26th – 30th August in Saint Lucia, provided a platform for PANCAP to share Test Treat Defeat – Caribbean Advocacy for Ending AIDS as a public health threat. The presentation focused on PANCAP’s high-level advocacy for the reduction of stigma and discrimination, the provision of affordable medicines and commodities, and adequate domestic financing for increasing the level of testing, treatment and viral suppression required to end AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean, and the successes to date.

Caribbean public health practitioners also presented on the process and challenges for achieving the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis, shared country experience implementing Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement System, a best practice for the region, and reported on the laboratory strengthening support, which is being provided by the Caribbean Med Lab Foundation in the OECS.  The CCAS also received presentations from Cuba in relation to EMTCT and GHESKIO in Haiti in relation to HIV Treatment.

However, while CCAS provided an opportunity for Caribbean public health practitioners to be updated on new technologies and to share best practices and experiences in HIV, the absence of National AIDS Programme Managers was glaring. In response, I would like to urge our member states to support the participation of these managers. NAP managers are ideally positioned to contribute by sharing best practices and experiences. NAP managers will also be exposed to the technological developments and strategies for ending AIDS. The PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU) will advocate for such support for our valued NAP managers to attend the annual CCAS.

I would like to congratulate the Caribbean Med lab Foundation on the occasion of its 10th Anniversary which was celebrated at a dinner hosted by the organization on 30th August at the end of CCAS 2018. CMLF promotes and supports the achievement of quality laboratory services in accordance with appropriate standards, through advocacy, resource mobilization, collaboration, research, and education. CMLF has provided invaluable services to the Caribbean region over the last 10 years and must be lauded for its stellar work. The work they do is even more important as we strive to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets given the crucial role of laboratory services for achieving each of these targets.

The PCU supported the PACC in preparing for the 34th Meeting of the PACC and 28th Meeting of the PANCAP Executive Board, which were held on 4-6 September in Georgetown, Guyana. The meetings provided an opportunity to discuss progress and challenges as well as programmatic and policy guidance. These meetings received and discussed the draft report on the evaluation of the CRSF and made policy recommendations for the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) – Ministers of Health meeting scheduled for the third week in September in Washington D.C. USA.

A joint PANCAP – CVC – COIN Multi-country proposal was submitted to the Global Fund in August for funding in the amount of USD$6.5 million for the period 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2022. The conceptual framework for this proposal builds on the top-down and bottom-up strategies of the current Global Fund grants to more effectively work towards integrating these approaches into strengthened national programs that benefit from the inclusion of civil society and communities as equal partners in decision-making, planning, implementation, and oversight. This approach is indicative of a broader commitment of the regional response to stronger integration of community, civil society and government efforts as equal partners and stakeholders in the HIV response, and to more effectively link progress at the regional level to actions and tangible results at the national level. The proposal provides a unique opportunity to institutionalize partnerships between civil society and governments and to develop effective and sustainable programs to meet the needs of key populations and thereby diminish the HIV epidemic. The Partnership awaits the outcome of the Technical Review Panel, which is currently reviewing proposals submitted in August 2018.