PRESS RELEASE – The OECS Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) for HIV/AIDS has been awarded a grant from the Global Fund of US$5.3 million in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Various Ministries and organisations from across the OECS have been working and strategizing for months to secure this funding that today 14th July, Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relation and Chair of the OECS RCM, Hon. Alvina Reynolds has confirmed will be made available to continue the HIV efforts within the OECS islands.
The Health Minister remarked ” It’s been hard work, Ms. Joan Didier the consultant, Ms. Veronica Cenac and the team from the other countries and off-course ministers who visited us to be part of that process. And finally the product…today we got the good news that we have been awarded the amount of US$5.3 million to deal with the issues of HIV/AIDS in the region.
Looking at our target population, vulnerable population, men who have sex with men, we’re looking at youth, we’re looking at stigma and discrimination all of these issues. It’s about people and how we can battle on the see when we can bring it to that point where we will have Zero infections as it pertains to HIV/AIDS. We must continue to be strategic in using the funds where it is most needed to save lives and reduce HIV and AIDS infections in the region and especially in St. Lucia.”
Director of the OECS, RCM, Joan Didier noted that the OECS Commission through the OECS HIV/AIDS Unit has been working throughout the OECS since 2005 and receives grant funding through PANCAP, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS however this grant funding comes to an end in 2015.
“So the OECS RCM is particularly elated because it means come 2016 we will have money for another 3 years work within the OECS. The OECS Commission is going to be the principle recipient of those funds. What is means is that the money will go to the OECS Commission and they will be the implementers . They will work through the Ministries of Health in the six OECS countries.
The Ministries of health will be the sub recipients for the grant and the Ministry of Health will then work with Civil Society Organizations particularly organisations that work with men having sex with men, commercial sex workers, transgenders and young people to ensure that these populations who sometime are restricted in their attempt to access services can have freer access to services.” Didier explained
She indicated that the OECS will soon be validated as having eliminated mother to child transmission for HIV.
She noted that achieving this status is only part of the process, maintaining that status will require hard work and funding thus the funding from the global fund will help build on gains already achieved.