From the CARICOM Secretariat

Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The Developing Country NGO Delegation to the Global Fund Board (DCNGO), Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) collaborated with 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, to convene a joint meeting of advocates for domestic financing for HIV in Georgetown Guyana from Jan. 29-31.

The purpose of the intervention is to create a strategic approach to raising awareness and advocacy for increasing domestic financing for HIV, AIDS and malaria programmes through advocacy training and strategic planning.

At the core of the workshop is the development of a regional (Caribbean) strategy, which will be coordinated by a working group tasked with addressing key resource mobilization and domestic financing issues related to The Global Fund in Jamaica, St Lucia (OECS), Haiti, Belize and Guyana.

In welcoming participants, Director of PANCAP Dereck Springer underscored the importance of the involvement of civil society in advocating for increased financing by governments for HIV. He emphasized that civil society has held the baton for HIV awareness from the inception and that their involvement is critical for the next phase of the region’s response to the disease. The director referred to the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy as a model that can be strategically utilized for the intervention. He posited that the strategy propagates that civil society has the ability to mobilize unprecedented financial resources and enable communities to participate in designing health services that meet their needs.

Dr. Martin Odiit, UNAIDS country director, Guyana and Suriname, commended the organisers and participants of the intervention, stating his appreciated that the Caribbean is taking a positive step and being fully involved in the Global Fund replenishment as evidenced by the enthusiasm at the workshop. He also noted UNAIDS ongoing support to countries in developing HIV investment cases for sustainability.

In his opening remarks, Jomain McKenzie, communications focal point for the DCNGO, emphasised that “any health burden is also a financial burden and where governments don’t always see the need, it is up to us to make the case for funding our health.” McKenzie highlighted that civil society’s efforts in domestic financing send a signal to donors that we do play a role in the big picture of health funding – a role that goes beyond that of being beneficiaries.

The participants include representatives from government, the National AIDS Commission, advocates, and leaders of civil society organisations, namely the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC).

The initiative is financially and technically supported by International Civil Society Support (ICSS) Global Fund Advocacy Network (GFAN) through the New Venture Fund of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners that was established Feb. 14, 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 maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

The Developing Country NGO delegation is a voting constituency on the Global Fund Board and represents NGOs from the developing world serving those affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. The delegation seeks to influence decisions and policies to ensure strategic, continuous and appropriate responsiveness to the needs of those affected by the three diseases and the NGOs providing services to them.

IMAGE: Dennis Glasgow, participant; Dr. Martin Odiit, UNAIDS country director; Guyana and Suriname; and Dereck Springer, director of PANCAP