In pursuit of ending the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Global Fund has awarded the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) for HIV/AIDS a US$5.3 million grant to assist with their project. This comes after a time when ministries and organization from across the sub-region have been strategizing and operating to secure the funding for several months. The news of the fund being made available was confirmed yesterday by St. Lucia’s Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relation and Chair of the OECS RCM, Alvina Reynolds.
“It’s been hard work . . . 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,” she announced. “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 RCM, Joan Didier, shared that the grant would be handed to the OECS Commission which would distribute the funds to the different health ministries in the member states of the sub-regional group.
“The ministries of health will then work with civil society organizations, particularly organizations that work with men having sex with men, commercial sex workers, transgender people 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 said.
She also said that she expected the OECS to soon be validated as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She adds that while achieving the status was worth festivity, it was not the end as hard work would be required to maintain that and build on the gains. In that regard, the RCM director said that the money from the Global Fund will serve very useful in this development.