Barbados could soon be joining with an international university to create an AIDS Fellowship Programme, which would see an individual pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) annually, beginning in the academic year 2007-2008.

The total value of the one-year programme is US $100,000 covering tuition, air fare, housing, and medical coverage for the candidate, which has to be provided by the Barbadian and American stake holders.

Discussions are ongoing about the Fellowship’s formation between Professor Dorothy Zinberg of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Zinberg AIDS Clinic which is based at a Harvard teaching hospital and the Ministry of Health and the Barbados HIV/AIDS Commission.

Professor Zinberg a long-time visitor to Barbados, has been spearheading the fund-raising efforts.

Tax-deductible cheques, should be made out to, "Barbados/Harvard AIDS Fellowship” and be addressed to: Dr. Dorothy Zinberg, Kennedy School of Government, 79 JFKennedy St.,Harvard University, Cambridge. MA 02138. If the funding is secured by January 31, 2007, the Government of Barbados would be in a position to nominate a candidate to apply to Harvard University for the 2007 – 2008 academic year.

She anticipates that the Fellowship would be available to “Barbadian AIDS professionals and could take effect early in the new year once a suitable candidate has been selected”.

According to her, the project took shape after a British Broadcasting Corporation programme reported that Barbados was in the midst of an AIDS epidemic but unlike many countries was attempting to take a firm hold of the problem.

“I contacted the Chairman of the Barbados AIDS Commission, Dr. Carol Jacobs, who introduced me to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, and we are in the process of arranging a meeting with senior Government officials to discuss the possibility of establishing such a Fellowship that would allow a local health care professional working in the National AIDS Programme to undertake a degree programme at Harvard for a year.  This course of study would allow the professional to acquire additional skills in management in the public sector; the economics of AIDS care and prevention; and coursework in ethics in medicine and government”, Dr. Zinberg said.

The Zinberg AIDS clinic, provides urban experience and international links and has a major ongoing project with South Africa.  The selected Barbadian candidate would also benefit from participation in other Harvard-related AIDS programmes such as Harvard’s School of Public Health AIDS Initiative which has a partnership with Botswana, where the HIV pandemic is wreaking havoc in the society.

In addition, the Barbadian health worker would acquire significant skills and experiences to strengthen the public health of Barbados and also contribute to the education of others at Harvard in their efforts to contribute to the solution of global health issues by increasing their international outreach activities.

On completion, the degree holder would be expected to return to his/her department in Barbados.

Dr. Zinberg noted that although in the initial stage it would be a Fellowship for Barbadians that the long-term goal would be to bring senior officials and students to the Kennedy School from other Caribbean countries. This in turn would create a cadre of practitioners and public management experts who could strengthen efforts to link the AIDS programmes throughout the region.

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