The Ministry of Health has assured the World Bank Mission of its continued commitment to keeping HIV and AIDS high on its agenda.

This assurance has come from Health Minister, Donville Inniss, during a courtesy call paid by three officials from the Mission today, at his Culloden Road, St. Michael office.??

Senior Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean Region at the World Bank, Dr. Shiyan Chao, spoke about similar challenges being experienced across the Caribbean and urged the country to zero in on the drivers of HIV in the region – the most at risk groups.?? These included commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and the disabled. Dr. Chao, however, stated that based on the experience of other countries, collaboration with civil society organisations was a key component to reaching these groups.??

Minister Inniss hinted at plans for the Ministry of Family, under whom the HIV programme now falls, and the Ministry of Health to work together more closely and pointed to the need for an amplified monitoring and evaluation focus, an emphasis on removing stigma and discrimination, and the necessity of specifically targeting those who most needed to be tested, to reduce new HIV cases.??

The World Bank team commended the health officials on their Antiretroviral treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, but urged the local HIV programme officers to concentrate on developing the right message and to target the right people.

Also present at the meeting were: Director of CDC-Brazil and World Bank Consultant, Dr. Aristides Barbosa; Public Health Specialist, Carmen Carpio; Director of the HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire-Gay; Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand; Senior Medical Officer of Health (Communicable Diseases), Dr. Dale Babb; Permanent Secretary, Ronald Fitt; and Senior Administration Officer, Manasseh King.

The mission is here once again to assess the progress of the US $35 million second Government of Barbados/World Bank HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project which became effective on January 6, 2009.????

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