Regional consultation next month to discuss ending of HIV/AIDS by 2030

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(CMC) A two-day consultation on ending HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean by 2030 will be held in Trinidad and Tobago early next month.

The February 1-2 event is being organised jointly by the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and Caribbean Faith Leaders. It is being co-funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The organisers said that the consultation has already attracted at least 55 religious and lay leaders representing different faiths and denominations across the Caribbean.

Director of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, Dereck Springer, said ‘the consultation is for Caribbean faith leaders by faith leaders, given the crucial role of the faith community in ending AIDS. The consultation will focus on faith leaders’ contributions to end the epidemic by 2030.

“Specifically, it will address the recommendations from the UN High Level 2016 Political Declaration; and agree on strategies to promote healthy living for all age groups; review best practices; identify gaps to be filled, resources required, and types of regional cooperation.”

The targets established at the United Nations High Level Meeting Political Declaration June 2016 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals approved by 192 nations at the UN in September 2015 will be considered, with emphasis on Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.

“This universal health goal includes ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, other neglected tropical diseases and preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030; reducing maternal mortality and mortality from non-communicable diseases.

“As a result, priority is being given to universal health coverage, health systems strengthening, building capability towards a healthy environment, and increasing financial sustainability. Achieving these targets require shared responsibility, including among religious organisations, governments, private sector and civil society,” the organisers said in a statement.

Professor Clive Landis, deputy principal at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, will present a paper on ‘What the science is saying,’ while Rev Dr Nyambura Njoroge, representative of the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy will present on ‘The Role of Faith Leaders’ at the consultation.

“What I am most impressed with is the fact that the consultation will facilitate discussions that are not just about religion, but instead we will be discussing the totality of the issue surrounding HIV and how it affects our communities.

“It will allow us as leaders to examine how we can reach beyond our own sphere of influence and provide support to people who are not members of our community,” said Lorna McPherson, a member of the Executive Planning Committee for the Caribbean Faith Leaders Consultation.

The organisers said that, following the conclusion of the consultation, a communiqué will be issued with details of the way forward for Caribbean Faith Leaders and their role in ending HIV and AIDS.

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