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Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite; PS’s Diane Campbell and Lucene Wharton Isaacs and staff presenting food items to the Manager of the Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Food Bank, Stacia Whittaker.??(C.Pitt/BGIS)

Ensuring that Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) spend their last days with respect and dignity is a cause that resonates with a senior government official.

Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite disclosed that he felt "quite passionate about" this subject, as he presented food items to the Manager of the Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Food Bank, Stacia Whittaker, last Friday morning at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Jones Building, Webster Industrial Park, headquarters.

In a brief address, the Minister threw out a challenge to his staff and colleagues by asking them to consider having a formal or informal staff association that would enable them to do more community-centred activities.

"…We don’t only need to have something that is on the agenda as a Ministry, but certainly, we could go into the community and try and do different things. I am sure each one of us knows someone [with whom] we could work together and assist as a team.?? And, I say a team because we would be stronger as Ministries if we do work as a team.?? Part of that is to not only come in here and do what needs to be done, but when you do things outside of the office or other than what you are assigned to do then I find that it helps us to grow stronger as there is a lot out there that we can do," he stressed.

In accepting the donations, Ms. Whittaker said: "So often you have no idea who you are donating to but it could be closer to home than you could imagine because we see individuals from all walks of life needing help… not only those who may appear down on their luck, but also families having a hard time coming to grips with their results."

She noted that the Food Bank under the Ministry of Health’s care and support and treatment programme was a way to assist these individuals by providing proper nutrition, thus aiding them to lead healthier lives.

"… We are making a lot of strides in health when it comes to testing, counselling and treatment as well as our Positive Prevention Programme which encourages PLWHA the importance of going to clinic, keeping their appointments, taking their medication, looking at nutrition as an important area; and then we still have to get out there to the community and help to address stigma and discrimination…When you have government organisations like this that are coming out donating to the cause on a continuous basis it is heartening," she said.

Stating that "there is never enough," the Manager indicated that the Food Bank got referrals as they are not only supporting PLWHA but also children of those affected with HIV and AIDS as well as the grandparents left to raise their children’s offspring.

The Food Bank caters to clients referred by health care providers who may have social and economic challenges.?? These clients are also given information on how to use food items given, in a safe and nutritious manner.

theresa.blackman@barbados.gov.bb

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