PM Denzil Douglas flags abolishing punitive laws in St. Kitts and Nevis

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 30TH 2013 (CUOPM) – The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and CARICOM Lead Head of Government for Health, HIV and Human Resources and Chair of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday that the twin-island Federation is determined to take measures to expedite the abolition of punitive laws which continue to foster stigma and discrimination especially against the LGBT Community.

“In fact, the legislative changes have already been completed and I had expected that, together with UNAIDS and our Ministry of Health, the proposed national consultation on “rights for all” would have been completed in time for World AIDS Day 2012. Again, I am requesting the support of the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean to work with UNAIDS in collaboration with the relevant national agencies to make this happen. I envisage that stakeholders will include youth and faith-based organizations,” said Dr. Douglas on the conclusion of ceremonies to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the XIV AIDS Conference.

“In addition, I fully encourage the Caribbean region to sustain the AIDS response and to continue to invest strategically in order to achieve value for money. I will ask my fellow Heads of Government to support the consultations on the post 2015 development agenda and, in particular, the future of both HIV and NCDs,” said the Prime Minister, adding:

“This will mean focusing on the most at risk populations, gender equality and youth. I will also call on my fellow Heads of Government to support the resolution passed by the CARICOM Ministers of Health in September 2012 to review the conditions restricting middle-income countries like the Caribbean from accessing concessional grant. We cannot afford slippages in our treatment programmes. Indeed, they must be accelerated.”

The commemoration ceremony of the 2002 XIVth International AIDS Conference in Barcelona in the Parliament of Catalonia on April 29 2013 provided an opportunity for reflection on the significance of the signing of the Agreement between PANCAP/CARICOM and six pharmaceutical Companies.

“I was privileged to sign on behalf of the Caribbean region. That event initiated a revolution in the downward spiral of the costs of ARVs. It contributed in no small measure to the increasing numbers of PLWA on treatment in the Caribbean, from 10 percent in 2002 to approximately 50 percent in 2012. Collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, which joined PANCAP just after Barcelona 2002, and the Government of Brazil also contributed greatly to this expansion in access to ARVs. By 2015, in keeping with its targets, the Caribbean expects the figure to move upward to 80 percent,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister.

Dr. Douglas used the opportunity to thank the President of the Parliament of Catalonia, the Minister of Health, the Major and the co chairs of the 2002 International AIDS Conference (Dr. Jordi Casabona and Dr. Josep Gatell) for their invitation to him and the Caribbean delegation and for their gracious hospitality.

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