Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqui Wiltshire-Gay (FP)

The official response to HIV in Barbados remains one of continuous vigilance and a proactive approach, as government works assiduously to successfully implement its Second GOB/World Bank HIV Prevention & Control Project 2008-2013; and thereafter, initiate a sustainable, national programme.

This assurance has come from the Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqui Wiltshire-Gay, whose department is the coordinating agency of the national programme and World Bank Project. To achieve these goals, she said, Government was seeking to restructure the 2007 negotiated project with the assistance of a World Bank team that is currently in Barbados.

The Second World Bank Project is partly funded by a US$ 35 million World Bank loan which supports the HIV National Strategic Plan. Under the existing Loan Agreement, except for US$3.5 million of the US$35 million, the Government of Barbados must expend 100 per cent of its own funds to be reimbursed 35 per cent of the monies spent. Furthermore, it must spend at least 70 per cent up front in order to be reimbursed the 35 per cent. The advance is subject to all the terms and conditions of a commercial loan, and it was negotiated in a very different economic environment at the time.

Mrs. Wiltshire-Gay explained that this arrangement had become a challenge for the Project in the present global, economic recession. In addition, she noted, Barbados had adopted the sector-wide approach and budgetary allocations to implement the National AIDS Programme which is placed annually across various ministries.

The Director said: "It is well-known that the Project has faced a number of challenges since its commencement in January 2009. With the onset of the prevailing economic recession, the Government of Barbados steadfastly pursued a policy of prudent stewardship of public funds and, understandably, fewer resources could be allocated in advance to the HIV response.

"Measures were, however, put in place to ensure that the work continued and that HIV programmes were implemented in pursuit of the objectives of the National Strategic Plan. Furthermore, there were some areas where funding was no longer required to the levels projected. These included a significant reduction in the cost of drugs as a result of regional negotiations with the Clinton Foundation; the fact that Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) were now more readily accommodated in families and communities, leading to the closure of the Elroy Phillips Residential Centre, and evidence-based policy decisions taken not to conduct certain other activities," she said.

The World Bank team of two is led by Dr. Shiyan Chao, and will attend a number of meetings while here, to lend vital technical assistance to the restructuring process.

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