|PAHO/DFID team updating data on Montserrat’s HIV Situational Analysis|
Sandra Jones HIV-STI Technical Advisor PAHO
BRADES, Montserrat – Local health practitioners and members of the National HIV/AIDS Multi-Sectoral Team attended a one-day workshop on Montserrat’s HIV Situational Analysis.
In giving opening remarks, Minster of Health, Hon. Colin Riley said HIV/AIDS is changing the way we respond globally to health care and the disease is responsible for many of the advancements being made in how services are being provided to communities.
A four-person team led by Sandra Jones, HIV/STI Technical Advisor for the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation PAHO/WHO, made the presentations and inquiries to collect additional data to complete the Situation Analysis for Montserrat.
Situation analysis was done across all of the English and Dutch Overseas Territories participating to generate baseline information for the EC/OCT Project in order to facilitate targeted planning for the project and development of programmes, explained Jones. DFID and PAHO consultants conducted the initial analysis, which still had gaps and prompted the need for Thursday’s workshop here.
The EC/PAHO team members are Ms. Sandra Jones, HIV/STI Technical Advisor PAHO/WHO; Dr. Noreen Jack, HIV Care and Treatment Advisor PAHO/WHO HIV Caribbean; Claudette Francis, Consultant PLWHA and MARPS, PAHO-EC Project Caribbean; and Dr. Sonia Alexander, Technical Advisor UK OT DFID Project.
Dr Noreen Jack - HIv Care and Treatment Advisor
Dr. Noreen Jack presented the WHOs new Goals of HIV Global Strategy for the Health Sector. These are:
- To optimize HIV Prevention, treatment and care outcomes linked to Millennium Development Goal no.6;
- To maximize the impact of HIV responses on other health outcomes objectives by improving sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes; reducing tuberculosis incidence and mortality; and reducing the incidence and impact of HIV-related co-morbidities and co-infections with or diabetes, hypertension, age;
- To build strong and sustainable health systems to address HIV/AIDS and other major public health threats; and
- To reduce HIV vulnerability and address structural barriers to accessing HIV services. Achieve gender equity in access to HIV services and outcomes
“Even 30 years on in the HIV/AIDS epidemic there are still barriers which must be overcome,” Dr. Jack stated. “People with HIV are getting older and need to have access to other health services which must take into consideration their status. There is still much work to be done.”
The sessions looked at how the health sector can strengthen its work and create linkages which are necessary to ensure that HIV patients receive the best quality care.
National HIV/AIDS Coordinator Anjella Skerritt said there is still no line item in the budget for HIV/AIDS related word and that her office has been surviving on volunteerism and funds from international donors which is quickly drying up. “The way in which the Ministry of Health approached HIV/AIDS was to strengthen the relevant health and community systems and treat the disease as it would any other one and managed within the system.”
Participants shared the conflict between Montserrat’s adherence to international laws such as the rights of workers which calls for elimination of discrimination against persons living with the disease and the immigration laws which permits immigration officers to deport residents/migrants who have tested positive with the disease.
Psychologist Claudette Francis says Montserrat is creating a false sense of security because you cannot use testing migrant workers as a form of prevention. “You have said that people leave the island to test and to access treatment, so you don’t have a real picture of how many people are living with HIV/AIDS here.”
The afternoon session included discussions on testing and counseling and how persons living with HIV/AIDS can be integrated into the health care system.
The workshop was funded by the European Commission through the project “Strengthening the Integration of British and Dutch OCTs in the Regional Response to HIV.”
Montserrat’s first registered case of HIV was in 1985. Between 1995 and 2008 there were 31 confirmed cases on island, some of whom are believed to have left the island during the volcanic crisis. Presently there are seven registered cases here with two known incidents of mother to child transmission of the disease.