Health Minister, Donville Inniss (left), sharing a light moment at the symposium with Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley (centre) and?? Professor Clive Landis. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

There has already been some shift in the Health Ministry’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, with respect to the decentralisation of services.

Health Minister, Donville Inniss, made this assertion today, while participating as a panellist at the HIV Research Symposium being held at the Savannah Hotel over the next two days, under the theme New Developments in Prevention Thinking:?? Implications for Caribbean HIV Policy.

As the panel discussed the Paradigm Shift in Prevention Policy a Public Health Perspective, Mr. Inniss pointed to the country’s success in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and new evidence which showed a decline in the rate of new infections and mortality.?? He, however, emphasised that there was still much work to be done.??

"There is no resting on our laurels… Here in Barbados we have already started the process certainly with the introduction of rapid [HIV] testing being available now in Barbados… out of one of our sites, the Winston Scott Polyclinic and we intend to make it available at other health institutions and will certainly work with private physicians…," he said.

In an attempt to address stigma and discrimination with respect to those seeking diagnosis, care and management, the Health Ministry was also decentralising another service.??

"Therefore, we are beginning to have a Ladymeade Reference Unit (LRU) no longer being the main point where HIV care and management will take place in Barbados.?? We have currently two polyclinics where care and management has been decentralised to – Maurice Byer Polyclinic in the north and Randall Phillips Polyclinic in the south – where those who have been diagnosed can now get care and treatment without trying to go to LRU for some[one]…?? to stand at the roadside and accuse you or figure that they know your health status by seeing where you are going," he remarked.

Mr. Inniss also made the point that policy makers needed to listen to the technocrats and researchers so that empirical evidence could direct policy decisions.??Alluding to the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the lowering of the age at which individuals could access health care, he stated, "Policy makers must confront these issues.?? HIV can affect any one of us and therefore, we have to do what we have to do as policy makers to protect this society," he noted.

The other panellists were Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, Member of Parliament and Attorney Mia Mottley, Professor J. Peter Figueroa and Chairman of the Research Committee of the HIV Commission, Professor Clive Landis.??


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