Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, speaking to some members of the HIV/AIDS Commission Board, including its chairman,??Dr. Nigel Taylor (Minister’s right).

The new Board of the HIV/AIDS Commission has the "skills set" and "experience" necessary to do a tremendous job.

This assurance came from Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, last Friday as he met with some members of the new board. He said certain elements of the HIV/AIDS programme had been "very successful", while there were others they had to work on.

??Mr. Lashley continued: "I believe one of the things the Commission will have to look at is the peculiar dynamics which we face in Barbados that have been impacting on our low success levels as it relates to behavioural change and we have to revisit up-to-date statistics to inform how we approach it.

"…This Commission’s targets and challenges will be changing repeatedly… The actual subject matter is such that the issues which the Commission will have to deal with will change dramatically, it is the nature of the challenge which we face."

He told the Board members he expected them to engage various partners, including members of civil society and the business sector."Because of the nature of the mandate of the Commission … you will be required to be very innovative in terms of how you approach it," he suggested.

The new board took effect on June 6 and is chaired by Dr. Nigel Taylor, who has Dr. Beverly Miller-Moseley as his deputy. The other members are: Professor Timothy Roach, Peter Wickham, Orlando Scott, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, Patricia Phillips, Marilyn Sealy, Melissa Savoury-Gittens and the Permanent Secretary in Family and Youth or his nominee.

Mr. Lashley noted that the current board was smaller than the previous one and disclosed that another person would be appointed shortly, bringing the number to 11.

During the wide-ranging discussion, he pointed out that a political declaration was produced at a recent high-level United Nations (UN) meeting, which restated the approach countries across the world would adapt to their own circumstances.

"With the political declaration we will have to review our own strategies and programmes because that is what we as nations have agreed to … [To] look at that declaration and to incorporate the kind of targets within our own programme," he explained.

The Minister indicated that when the declaration was examined in the context of Barbados, evidence showed that "we have actually been quite successful in a number of areas". He continued: "The declaration calls for, I think, a target of zero transmission of HIV to children by 2015, and we have been quite successful in ensuring that the mother-to-child transmission is non-existent in Barbados or reduced to a very low level."

During the meeting, Minister Lashley and the Board also discussed the US $35 million Government of Barbados/World Bank HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project.


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