Clerical Officer??of the HIS/AIDS Commission, Kenroy Marshall, presenting Dr. Carol Jacobs with??a gift.??(Image: C. Pitt)
"Dr. Carol Jacobs has worked untiringly, selflessly, boldly and long, to bring to light the serious human, social and economic burden that HIV and AIDS pose to communities, such as ours."
That is the view of Senior Assistant General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Orlando Scott, who said she joined a list of other Barbadians, including Professor E. R. ???Mickey’ Walrond, Dr. Timothy Roach, Dr. Henrick Ellis, Vashti Inniss, Ira
Waterman, and others, who sought to take positive action to ameliorate suffering among people living with, and affected by, the virus.
Mr. Scott expressed the comments while delivering a tribute on behalf of the labour movement last Friday night, during a dinner at Wispers on the Bay. It was held to honour former Chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Dr. Carol Jacobs.
He told the gathering Dr. Jacobs was held in high esteem because she was among that group of persons, who, in spite of the scorn, taunts and labels such as "the AIDS Man/Woman", had immersed themselves in the fight against a disease that the public, especially in the early stages, found revolting and which was still associated with stigma and discrimination.
Mr. Scott pointed out that in the mid-1990s the former chairman recommended that the trade union movement should work on a code of practice on HIV/AIDS for Barbados and it was eventually developed.
"The Code proved to be a trail blazer because I am told that Sir Roy Trotman, in his role as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation, took the idea of the Barbados Code to Geneva and lobbied for the ILO to write its own code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. Dr. Jacobs’ vision and the sowing of a seed in tiny Barbados resulted in earth-shaking decisions at the global level, thus sparking developments that have made us all proud," he said.
Mr. Scott serves as the labour movement’s representative on the Commission, and declared he was impressed with the former chair’s calm leadership, the respect she
showed to staff and commissioners, and her skill at simplifying technical information and sharing it with non-medical members.
"One of the things that impressed me most about her was the strong support she gave to the CARE group, seeking, at all times, to procure the best for them, including a meeting place. I liked this approach because I have always felt that those who are most affected by the virus should be the ones who should be properly looked after in terms of nutrition, medication, care and shelter," he explained.
During her tribute, official of UNAIDS and representative of the international community, Rheeta Bhatia, opined that Dr. Jacob’s leadership at the national, regional and international level was nothing short of exemplary.
"At the national level, your commitment and effort to ensure that the encroachment of AIDS does not diminish the social and economic gains Barbados has made since its independence is commendable. You have served with distinction in setting up and leading a multi-sectoral response that is globally renowned.?? Whenever we speak of multi-sectorality in HIV and AIDS, Barbados’ name always comes up in the international field…
"The advancement that Barbados has made in the area of treatment, care and support is also exemplary and noted at the global level," Ms. Bhatia stated.
In her address, representative of CARE Barbados, Patricia Phillips, praised the former chair, pointing out that whenever a meeting was called, a person living with HIV
had to be in attendance. "She ensured there was a voice of a person living with HIV at the table and that is the only way the programme can go forward," Ms. Phillips asserted.
Past President of the National HIV/AIDS Youth Committee, Corey Lane, disclosed that sometimes they had some difficult meetings, but Dr. Jacobs never lost her cool.
Mr. Lane said that in her work with the HIV/AIDS programme, she moved with diplomacy beyond measure.