CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Wednesday July 15, 2015 – The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) for HIV/AIDS has been awarded a US$5.3 million grant from the Global Fund to continue its battle to stop the spread of the epidemic.
Ministries and organizations from across the sub-region have been working and strategizing for months to secure the funding. Yesterday, St. Lucia’s Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relation and Chair of the OECS RCM Alvina Reynolds confirmed it would now be made available.
“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 said.
“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 explained that the grant would be given to the OECS Commission which would distribute the funds to the ministries of health 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,” she said.
Didier said she expected the OECS would soon be validated as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV. But she stressed that achieving that status was not the end, as hard work would be required to maintain that and build on the gains.
The RCM director said the money from the Global Fund would therefore be useful in that regard.