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“Funding non-governmental organizations to reach out and support vulnerable persons is integral to the response,” says Minister of Health, Trinidad and TobagoMinister Deyalsingh addressed the Fourth Meeting of the PANCAP Advisory Group on Resource Mobilization with a call for more emphasis on exploring key populations’ vulnerability to HIV

February 20, 2019

Thursday 21 February 2019 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, convened the Fourth Meeting of the PANCAP Advisory Group on Resource Mobilization on 19 February 2019.  Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Chair of the PANCAP Executive Board delivered remarks at the opening of the meeting. One of the responsibilities of the Advisory Group on Resource Mobilisation is to provide guidance on resource mobilization strategies and support the identification of new funding sources and opportunities.

The meeting was hosted 22 months ahead of the end of 2020 deadline for reaching the 90-90-90 targets—90% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90% of diagnosed people on treatment and 90% of those on treatment virally suppressed. An output of the meeting is a Marketing Approach Framework for the PANCAP Resource Mobilisation Strategy 2018-2020 which will be used to accelerate the implementation of the Strategy.

Mr Desmond John, Director, Resource Mobilization and Technical Assistance, Caribbean Community Secretariat, and Chair of the PANCAP Advisory Group on Resource Mobilisation presided over the meeting and was supported by Director of PANCAP, Mr Dereck Springer.

Minister Deyalsingh challenged the Advisory Group to focus on the social factors, which make key populations vulnerable to HIV.  “Sustaining interest to combat HIV and end AIDS, requires reaching the everyday Caribbean national in his or her, real, full world circumstance,” stated the Minister, “Taking care of one’s health and well-being, as idealized by the Sustainable Development Goal 3, is NOT a reality for the person in a domestic violence or sexually abusive relationship who may be at higher risk of getting HIV. It is not an issue that the prisoner, the migrant, the substance abuser, the sex worker or a member of the key population community, really would focus on as they face daily human rights struggles”.

The Minister emphasized that mobilizing donor funding to have a true and positive impact on the lives of vulnerable populations, requires an approach in which HIV is viewed as more than a transmitted disease, but a manifestation of the reality or consequence of everyday decisions.

He explained that in addition to the traditional project and grant-funding proposals in HIV centric organizations, there is need to infuse the HIV topic across the civic engagement programmes within other non-HIV sectors. This inclusion, whether in the area of social or community development, labour, national security or gender affairs, can have a significant lasting impact.

Minister Deyalsingh further highlighted that the HIV response should move beyond a mechanical type approach to merely reducing high-risk sexual behaviour and remaining adherent to treatment. He advocated that the response requires more than the creation of enabling environments, integration of health services and determining how to sustain the gains made in all HIV-related projects and programmes.  He stated, “outside of the medical products, technologies and the imperfect legislative world, we would need to look at social spending in health to find holistic and effective strategies to achieve the UN Goals. For instance, we can consider the impact of chronic diseases and their care models on HIV screening guidelines. We can also examine the impact of mental health strategies on HIV treatment adherence and high-risk behaviours”.

The Minister further stated that the existing HIV data and research can be re-oriented through socio-demographic analysis, to determine the proportion of persons living with HIV (PLHIV) who are in need of government services.  He also highlighted that it is important to determine to what extent they are benefiting from the receipt of these services through other funding sources. He emphasized that funding to conduct this type of research is key to identifying all the direct and indirect costs required to fast track the HIV agenda.

The Minister advocated that funding non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reach out and support vulnerable persons is integral to the response. He stated that in the same vein, it should be noted that the work of the NGOs should be geared towards impacting not HIV, but people at risk of HIV.

He further advised that it is vital to measure the work of the NGOs. “It should be simple to measure the value of work NGOs are implementing, to not only have persons referred to HIV services but to other services and support,” stated the Minister, “Additionally, we must measure, through focus groups and exit interviews, the non-medical customer satisfaction with an NGO which may be a lifeline for many persons”.

Minister Deyalsingh highlighted that in order to bring about the change required the HIV response must be able to meet, identify and respect people at their circumstance, mainly through partnership with non-governmental organizations, individuals and advocates in an “All of Society” approach.

He stated, “We must be able to convince them that if they take that first step in their multistep journey to get tested or get treated, they will be supported by a comprehensive course of action, whether through services in sectors of health, social services, education, housing, labour, etc.”

– ENDS –

Helpful links:

What is the PANCAP Advisory Group on Resource Mobilization?

Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS Resource Mobilization Strategy (2018-2020)

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.