NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 01, 2020) — The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2020.
World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December every year. At this time, we recognize the significant achievements made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to continue awareness activities, to galvanize communities into actions geared towards the prevention and control of this chronic infectious disease, to support those people who are living with HIV and to pay homage to those who have passed over the years.
The theme for 2020, is ‘Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility’. This theme was chosen in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has really demonstrated the importance of health and the health workforce and how intricately health is linked with issues that have plagued the progress of work in HIV/AIDS, such as inequalities, economic development, human rights, gender equality and others.
The theme emphasizes how a unified response to the challenges in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases such as COVID-19, can make the difference.
We are responsible for each other, and our actions ultimately determine the outcome. No one is safe until all are safe. Individuals and communities have a significant role to play in ending HIV/AIDS. A collective effort in addressing major issues such as stigma and discrimination, and accessibility to services by vulnerable groups is required.
An all of society approach can have far reaching success whereby the mantra ‘leave no one behind’ will ensure that all who need care are able to access services without fear or reservation.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threatens the successes made over the years to end HIV/AIDS by 2030. Lockdowns and other strict prevention measures in response to the novel disease, has created a major challenge. The plight of vulnerable populations during this pandemic has exposed the health inequalities that continue to exist in our societies. Yet, with correct planning and robust management measures, the 2030 goal can still be achieved.
Our response to this pandemic can demonstrate how government and private sector agencies and services can work together to fight a common enemy.
There is a global call this year to ensure that health is fully financed and health systems are strengthened, access for all to life saving medicine, vaccines, and diagnostics and other health services; respect of human rights and recognition of the rights of women and girls and gender equality.
In Nevis, we continue to do our part to make sure that no one is left behind. The HIV/AIDS Unit within the Health Promotion Unit make certain that, even with ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nevisian community still has access to counselling, testing and treatment.
The successes and achievements of the programme over the years should not be overturned and so I commend the staff within the Ministry of Health who work to ensure that these services are maintained for our at-risk groups, pregnant clients and the general population.
Partnership with other ministries, groups and businesses is encouraged as it strengthens our health systems and programmes.
In observance of World AIDS Day and to create further public awareness, the unit carried out a series of activities at the end of this November under the theme ‘Lime Responsibly’, encouraging all to be responsible while enjoying recreational activities. Every responsible act demonstrates shared responsibility and contribute in some way to global solidarity in addressing HIV/AIDS.