February 11, 2005

There is a war on in this country. And everyone is being urged to be a soldier. No heavy artillery is needed to wage this battle. It just requires commitment by the nation and a willingness to maintain a healthy life style.

And there is every reason to complete this task. For if it is a journey, some steps have already been taken. {{more}}

There is some financial injection, from the World Bank, and along with the Vincentian government, a thrust is on to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS here.

That programme was launched last Tuesday at the Kingstown Methodist Church Hall wih Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves declaring the mission open. The session was witnessed by a wide cross section of partners in the campaign against the deadly epidemic.

Prominent at the launching were eight officials from the World Bank including Senior Public Health Specialist, Human Development Department Latin America and the Caribbean Region Mary Mulusa.

She traced the World Bank’s role in poverty reduction and noted that “until HIV/AIDS is reversed, that vision will remain a dream.”

While Mulusa praised Caribbean leaders for putting HIV/AIDS on the agenda, she noted that the disease “is a major and growing impediment to development and poverty alleviation in many countries.”

Mulusa, showing knowledge of the impact of the disease, observed that the onslaught had spread throughout the fabric of the society, and had in fact become an economic issue. She underlined a correlation between economic growth and HIV/AIDS infection.

“If HIV/AIDS continues to increase, growth prospects will recede,” Mulusa pointed out.

She outlined that “HIV/AIDS places an increasing burden on Health Care systems competing for scarce resources needed for other health priorities,”

She urged listeners to prepare for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, in much the same way as they do for hurricanes.

But the action must be concerted and coordinated and must cross national, regional, and transnational borders. And she pledged her institution’s support for the Caribbean in tackling the problem.

Mulusa underlined plans to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by reducing transmission among high risk groups and the wider population, as well as lengthening the life for persons with allocated the disease “through care that is effective, affordable, and equitable within the context of government helped policies.”

Some $118 m has been approved for nine Caribbean countries including St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Other efforts to fight the scourge have been undertaken with World Bank approval.

Mulusa is also hoping that measures to reduce the stigma and discrimination of persons associated with HIV/AIDS will emerge as part of the battle against the disease.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves declared the programme dubbed World Bank SVG HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project, open.

Health and environment Minister Dr Douglas Slater also addressed the function, as well as Director of the HIV/AIDS Unit here Dr. Del Hamilton.

The hall reflected the partnership envisaged for the battle, with the World Bank team comprising Willy DeGeyndt, Marcelo Castrillo, Manta Ospina, Emmanuel Njomo, Dr. John Stephen Osika, Jean Rutabanzibwa-Ngaiza, and Mario Bravo present.