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Antigua and Barbuda to appeal for more funding for two diseases

Director of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Regional Coordinating Machinery, Joan Didier. Director of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Regional Coordinating Machinery, Joan Didier.
A wide-cross section of local officials will meet on Friday to hammer out what Antigua and Barbuda wants to include in a draft regional proposal to access more grants from the Global Fund for the elimination of HIV and Tuberculosis.

The consultation is with Joan Didier, the director of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Regional Coordinating Machinery.

The body was mandated by the Global Fund and established in 2003 by O.E.C.S. ministers of health to enable the award of money from the Fund.

n 2015 the OECS Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) was awarded a grant of US $5.2 million by the Global Fund, towards the elimination of HIV and TB in the OECS. The RCM was setup to allow the OECS countries to comply with Global Fund’s eligibility criteria. Joan Didier is the Director of the OECS Regional Coordinating Mechanism.

“So it consists of representation from the six participating countries of the Global Fund grants, one member from government and one member from civil society. We also have representation on the RCM of people living with HIV, men who have sex with men and sex workers and we will soon have representation of the transgender community of the OECS.”

OECS countries are currently benefiting under the HIV/TB Elimination Project which focuses on access to care for vulnerable populations. With grant funding coming to an end in 2019, Didier said, the RCM has been invited by the Global Fund to prepare another 3 year grant spanning 2019 – 2022 to facilitate the continuation of services under this current grant.

“For us to do that we have to have country consultation with a broad cross section of persons so that they can give us feedback on the current grant and make recommendations for the programme going forward.”

Project Coordinator for the OECS, HIV/TB Elimination Grant, Dr. Cleophas D’Auvergne touted the many successes of the programme thus far. Included among these are workshops on combination prevention, a minimum package of services for sexual and reproductive health, human rights and legal literacy training, the sustained procurement of ARVs, condoms and lubricants for key populations and the production of educational manuals. HIV and Syphilis train the trainer workshops are also among the achievements highlighted for greater penetration of key populations.

“In terms of the TB elimination we’ve been able to have the country assessments. PAHO has been very instrumental in conducting the national TB country assessments. We’ve been able to develop a draft OECS strategy as well as countries have been able to develop their national country elimination plans.”

He said clinical guidelines for HIV/TB and STIs have also been developed and updated.

“With regards to surveillance we’ve had a major success in terms of conducting the population size estimate studies we’ve been trying to do for a number of years now. At least 10 years and we’re finally able to have this completed.

We’re now in the data analysis and validation phase, as well as we’ve developed our HIV Clinical Management Module which will be used to actually strengthen the validation process for mother to child transmission of HIV and strengthen TB elimination in the future.”

Despite all the successes, Dr. D’Auvergne referenced the many challenges still facing key populations in the OECS.

“We still have challenges for HIV in terms of data collection for key populations, especially men who have sex with men with regards to HIV testing and outreach for them as well. We still have problems in terms of adherence and follow up as well. Programme integration and coordination between HIV and TB programmes. And for TB, it’s scaling up TB case detection in high risk populations especially migrant populations, the homeless substance abusers as well. So it’s really a constant process. We’re trying to ascertain the gaps we see now in the current grant so that we can use those gaps and actually try to incorporate synergies towards facilitating an improved continuation of the grant in the future for 2019 to 2022. ”

And Antigua and Barbuda AIDS Programme Manager Delcora Williams says that the O.E.C.S. is pushing for another three-year grant, this time valued at three-point-five million U.S. dollars.

The deadline to submit the application to the Global Fund is April 28th.

Williams said that the Antigua and Barbuda government spends roughly one-point-three million dollars on the country’s HIV response, so any money received from the Global Fund will supplement the state’s response.

Ahead of those talk, Didier, says the consultations are critical to getting feedback on the current Global Fund grant as well as recommendations on the way forward for the regional fight against HIV and Tuberculosis.

  • Countries: Antigua_Barbuda

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