Belize has joined the move to create a regional shift in the response to HIV/AIDS. More importantly, though, the move will serve to improve the national response to HIV/AIDS. The National Aids Commission has joined the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) and its discussions with parliamentarians under the PANCAP Justice for All program. Today, in a follow up to the series of discussions the NAC, PANCAP and the European Union held a Parliamentarian Sensitization Forum under the theme: “What can Parliamentarians do to end AIDS”. Dalila Ical reports.
Dalilah Ical: “The consultations with Parliamentarians aim to as the theme states find out how Parliamentarians can contribute to the response to HIV/ Aids in the region. This includes work towards the elimination of stigma and the discrimination against people living with HIV.
Pablo Marin Minister of Health: “So if someone have the HIV virus and they don’t want to get tested you know because they will be discriminated outside and it shouldn’t be happening so we need to voice that out there, to voice to the public to help by you the media for us to sensitize everyone, that this is a community approach and not only a Ministry of Health Approach.
Orlando Habet PUP Cayo Northeast: I think it is absolutely important that Parliamentarians have a voice in it but not only a voice, it is not only virtue but that we actually participate, share information together and this goes across from one party to the other. We need to come together to work on something that is so vitally important to our country because having people suffering from HIV/ Aids, being productive will help our country, we will have less cost eventually through our Health Department or our Health Ministry but also because in doing so there is a possibility for the reduction of stigma and discrimination.
Dalilah Ical: Minister of Health Pablo Marin says that in Belize one of the Primary focus is on funding.
Minister of Health Pablo Marin: I think in Belize we are fairly good, we are giving Antiretrovirals free of cost to anybody who needs it. No where in the country can you do that, we have extended our testing from clinical to outside. We have DNACK who is a part also of promoting and sensitizing people so we’re fairly good in the country. The only situation right now is that finance is depleting for us to combat HIV/Aids and what we are doing today is sensitizing Parliament for us which is also part of a bigger approach and to have them involved in us getting funds for us to be able to maintain this program. The funds will always be there, we will find the funds, that’s definitely, we need to maintain the program but what we need to do is sensitize parliament for when we go and bring down the budget they will say yes we can have it.
Dalilah Ical: So we know Belize is one of the unique countries where medication is accessed free of cost for HIV patients. That in your view as Minister will not change any time soon?
Minister of Health Pablo Marin: “No definitely that will never change because that comes directly from the Ministry of Health so that will not change.”
Dalilah Ical: PANCAC first held a regional parliamentarian forum in May 2017 where Parliamentarians agree to advance the adoption of the CARICOM model anti discrimination legislation 2012 and under take their legislative representational and oversight for ending Aids. Daliah Ical Love News.
The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV & AIDS (PANCAP) has been involved in consultations with parliamentarians since 2013 which informed the development of the PANCAP’s Justice For All Program.