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Fifth Meeting of NAP Managers and Key Partners Conclude with Call for More Civil Society Involvement at All LevelsNext steps include increased focus on behavioural change

March 10, 2017

The Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) concluded the Fifth Meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Key Partners, March 6 – 8, with an urgent call to include more civil society organizations (CSOs) in programme implementation and for an increased emphasis on behavioural change strategies, particularly focused on men. The presentations, discussions and activities revolved around the theme ‘strengthening the HIV response’.

Ms. Gardenia Destang-Richardson, National AIDS Programme Manager, Ministry of Health St Kitts and Nevis and National AIDS Programme Managers Representative on PANCAP Governance Bodies, called for NAP managers, permanent secretaries and other policy makers to intensify efforts to include members of the civil society organizations at all levels on HIV and AIDS programme planning and implementation.

During her closing remarks, Ms. Destang-Richardson received consensus from participants on the following next steps towards strengthening the HIV and AIDS response in the Caribbean:

  • Recalibrating messages being used to educate the public on HIV and AIDS to focus on creating behavior change
  • Focusing on men and boys to influence more sexual responsibility within society
  • Leveraging the policy making influence of permanent secretaries and chief medical officers
  • Including civil society organizations at all levels of HIV and AIDS programme implementation

‘Civil society organizations have their finger on the pulse of the key populations’, stated Ms. Destang-Richardson, ‘in rural areas where exposure to media and HIV and AIDS education is limited, it is the CSOs that drive the message and prevent many new infections through public awareness activities and advocacy. Hence, we need their input at all levels when planning strategies related to the end of AIDS by 2020. They provide pivotal insight and inform unique approaches to bringing key messages to their populations. I challenge every NAP manager, permanent secretary and chief medical officer at this meeting to advocate for inclusion of CSOs at all levels, including policy development, moving forward’.

Participant Kinesha Thom, representative of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC), made an appeal for policymakers and donor partners to create new avenues for involvement of CSOs. ‘We deserve recognition as the pathway through which most of the HIV and AIDs awareness is received by key populations,’ stated Ms. Thom, ‘hence we are integral to formulating programmes related to HIV and AIDS, especially if we intend to increase efforts to create behaviour change’.

Echoing the challenge issued at the Opening Ceremony on Monday by Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Dereck Springer, Director of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, challenged all participants to rethink public education on HIV and AIDS to focus more on behaviour change strategies that will significantly cause members of key populations to exercise more responsibility with their sexual behaviour. ‘We have to concentrate on our boys and men when we conceptualize prevention messages,’ stated the Director, ‘they have a tremendous influence on sexual behaviour in society and we must leverage this influence and channel it in a positive way’.

The meeting, funded by the Global Fund and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), hosted over 70 NAP managers, selected chief medical officers and permanent secretaries, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, and regional and development partners.

Timothy Austin
Communications Specialist
PANCAP Coordinating Unit | Knowledge for Health (K4Health)
CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen
Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Extension 3409
Fax: (592) 222-0203

Editor’s Notes

Background to the National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners Meeting

The Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF) 2014-2018 articulates the vision and collective priorities of Caribbean states through their membership in the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP). The core premise is that stemming the HIV epidemic in the Caribbean rests on the commitment, capacity and leadership of national authorities and effective response. The primary goal of regional collaborative efforts is to support country responses by addressing common challenges in the areas of evidence based policy formulation, and innovative responses  to  addressing legislative gaps, resource mobilisation, coordination and technical assistance., An effective regional response, guided by the CRSF 2014-2018,therefore  requires that the links and interfaces between country programmes  and regional support programmes be defined and agreed to by country partners. This is critical for strengthening country ownership of the PANCAP response and a shared responsibility to strategically align efforts to end HIV as a public health problem in the Caribbean.

The NAP (National AIDS Program) Managers and Key Partners Meeting provides an opportunity for joint decision-making in setting programmatic priorities and identifying partner contributions in order to strategically align efforts in the fight against HIV. The Meeting Agenda is intended to allow for in-depth analysis and discussion on the relevant aspects of the UN Post 2015 Agenda, and the overall advancements of the Caribbean Region in implementing new initiatives for HIV. It is within this context that opportunities and challenges for the Region and individual countries to expand the national responses will be discussed. PANCAP acknowledges the need for greater attention to inter- country linkages and greater collaboration with regional partners. This will serve to maximise synergies, and provide a mechanism for making regional public goods available to national programmes to enhance their delivery and impact.

What are the 90-90-90 targets? 

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression)

Follow updates from the Meeting of NAP Managers and Key Partners using #StrengtheningHIVResponse