Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2013 Contents A14
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Even though the region has made strides in its
fight against HIV/Aids, St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister
Dr Denzil Douglas, says the newly-installed
Caribbean Public Health Agency s (Carpha) first
course of action will be to examine "archaic laws"
which criminalise certain activities.
Douglas is the Caricom leader with responsibility
for human resources, health and HIV/Aids.
He made the comment after the official launch of
the agency, which is composed of five former
Caribbean agencies, among them Carec, at the
National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA),
Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday.
During an interview with the T&T Guardian, Dou-
glas said: "I think there are some miles we still have
"One of the areas is the continuing stigma and
discrimination that we have against persons who are
living with or associated with HIV/Aids. We believe
this has been elevated as a human rights issue and
to a large extent it comes from people s own sexual
orientation and the acceptance and non-acceptance
of Caribbean people to the rights that people have."
Douglas said one of the first steps taken would be
to examine the laws within various territories.
"One of the important initiatives we shall be pur-
suing is to look at those archaic laws which, still to
a large extent, criminalise certain activities, which
we believe are causing those who have HIV/Aids to
be driven underground and not coming forward for
testing and the appropriate management and care
that they deserve," he added.
The issue, he said, needed to be addressed from
Executive director of the
Caribbean Public Health Agency
(Carpha), Dr C James Hospedales,
has pledged to adopt the fight
against violence and injuries in the
region and to push for the "imple-
mentation of policies and pro-
grammes" surrounding the matter.
During the launch of the body at
NAPA, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday,
Hospedales said injuries (traffic fatal-
ities, drownings, falls, suicides,
among others) and violence, partic-
ularly homicide, were cause for
"great concern" in the region.
He added: "You see, injuries and
violence cause harm not only to fam-
ilies and individuals involved but
also are spawning an epidemic of
fear in the land, where people are
spending more and more on burglar
bars and private security forces,
which are not productive uses of
"Injuries and violence have grown
worse in recent years in most mem-
ber states, particularly homicide,
linked to a range of causes, including
alcohol and illegal drug trafficking.
However, we have not taken a strong
public health, evidence-informed
approach to tackle the problem."
Health Minister Fuad Khan,
Jamaica s Health Minister and chair-
man of Carpha s executive board Dr
Fenton Ferguson, Pan American
Health Organisation s (PAHO) direc-
tor Dr Carissa Etienne, Caricom sec-
retary-general Ambassador Irwin
LaRocque and Caricom lead, human
resources, health, HIV/Aids and PM
of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Denzil Dou-
glas, also sat on the panel which
addressed the audience.
Hospedales pledged that the
agency would begin to address the
issue by studying and measuring the
problem. He said it could possibly
work with other organisations and
agencies to "combine security-ori-
ented measures with public health
Other issues, such as climate
change, HIV/Aids, the tourism sector
and the spread of diseases, were
identified as issues to be addressed
by the agency.
Hospedales said the region should
aspire to become a tobacco-free
space and applauded countries which
had created public, smoke-free
Noting that Haiti has the highest
rate of cervical cancer, he said: "Haiti
will get special attention from
Carpha, as the member state having
the most needs but also a willingness
and energy to deal with them."
In the audience were several dig-
nitaries, including former Caricom
secretary-general Edwin Carrington,
British High Commissioner Arthur
Snell and Chancellor of the Univer-
sity of the West Indies and emeritus
director of the Pan American Health
Organisation Sir George Alleyne.
a political front but should also be discussed with
stakeholders and populations.
He said: "As a result of that, there is the potential
for the spread of the virus. This has to be tackled
up front and from the political front and that is why
the leadership of the Caribbean Community, in par-
ticular, is now looking at this seriously as to how we
can make appropriate changes.
"But before you can make changes you must bring
the various stakeholders and your populations to
discuss the issue and so the time has come for the
conversation to start in our various territories."
Carpha s executive director, Dr James Hospedales,
said during his address that the region had made
"tremendous progress" with HIV/Aids.
He said from a technical point of view the agency
could aim to reduce premature deaths from non-
communicable diseases (NCDs), HIV/Aids and injuries
and violence by 25 per cent by 2025. This, he said,
would be a part of the Caribbean s post-2015 devel-
Pledge to push fight
against regional violence
Carpha taking hard look at HIV/Aids...
Fixing laws key
to real progress
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, right, chats with Dr C James Hospedales, executive director of Carpha, at the
opening of the Caribbean Public Health Agency at the northern campus of the National Academy for the
Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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