The South-South Knowledge Exchange was truly an exchange. The experience provided a different view of the robust efforts of civil society organisations (CSOs) that advocate for the rights of their communities and support vulnerable populations.
I love the Dominican Republic’s civil society organisations’ contribution to the HIV response. I admire how visible and open they are about their issues and provide solutions to help fight HIV and stigma in their communities. Their commitment to work and the communities they serve is something to be emulated.
The collaboration between Integral Orientation and Research Center/Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), CONAVIHSIDA, CSOs and other partners showed the strength and commitment of the people of this country.
It was evident that COIN, Ministry of Public Health and the other institutions that we visited were happy to share their best practices and to highlight the areas where more work needs to be done.
At times, seeing all the strengths of their HIV response made the work at home that we will have to do seem like a mammoth task. However, as strong Caribbean people, we must keep on building and learning from each other. We will find ways to adjust our approach to achieve the success of building the voices of our CSOs and achieving the 90-90-90 Targets.
The lesson learnt from the exchange is that CSOs should be integrally involved in the HIV response. We must ensure that their voices are heard. I say KUDOS to all including COIN, especially the staff of the COIN Clinic and COIN Observatory, Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, Transsa, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Institute of Tropical Medicine, Institute of Virological Studies – IDEV and REDOVIH.
The experience was as holistic like the services provided at the Instituto Dominicano de Estudios Virológicos (IDEV) and COIN, which included PrEP, HIV rapid testing and approaches to deal with human trafficking.
Finally, the people are very friendly and the black beans and rice (muy deliciosa).
Thank you PANCAP and to the Ministry of Health in my country, Saint Kitts and Nevis for the beneficial opportunity. My fellow OECS colleagues (colegas), you were a great bunch!