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Remarks by Hon. Nicolette Henry, M.P – Minister of Education, Guyana on the occasion of the Sixth Meeting of National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners12-14 March 2018, Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

March 12, 2018

It is a pleasure to serve the people in the Caribbean as Chair of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism, Global Fund Project. Over the past years there, has been strong growth in the region’s HIV response, however, more still needs to be done to in order to sustain the response and gains made.

Mr. Chair, I see on the draft agenda for this meeting a number of important topics like where are we in fast tracking the regional AIDS response, addressing fast-tracking the HIV response and integration as a key strategy for sustainability.

These are all relevant topics for this particular National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners meeting which has strategic importance as it is happening in the year when the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework 2014-2018 comes to an end.

It is clear that some objectives of this Strategic Framework would not have been achieved. Among them, are those associated with integration and collaboration, there is still need to strengthen country ownership of the response and shared responsibility to strategically align efforts to end HIV as a public health problem in the Caribbean

As a region we still challenged with late diagnosis, particularly for men. Yet there is much to celebrate. People are living much longer with HIV and AIDS, many more patients are on ART and there are greater methods and practices for fast-tracking prevention, operational financing mechanisms, authority and responsibility of National AIDS Programme. These are all essential requirements for closing the gap and shepherding an AIDS free generation.

Our International Partners have provided support and impetus to advance the Caribbean region’s response. And I say thank you.

Let us therefore take the opportunity afforded by this Sixth Meeting of the National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners to update our strategies and activities for achieving prevention and reaching those vulnerable populations and those most in need. Let us resolve at this meeting to eliminate inequalities.

Let me conclude by repeating the words of Mr. Peter Sands Executive Director of Global Fund who advocated that there are five key messages for the global health community as we address emerging infectious disease threats: “First, we have to get better at articulating what’s at stake in making the world safer from infectious disease threats; Second, we need to talk about health security in a way that makes sense both to taxpayers in high-income countries and to the people most at risk from infectious diseases, third, we have to embed and broaden our approach to antimicrobial resistance, so that antimicrobial resistance becomes an integral component of how we tackle infectious disease; Fourth, we need to get better at working together to tackle specific diseases and to build stronger, more resilient health systems, and finally, we need to ensure that gender considerations inform health security strategies in a powerful, practical — and effective — way.