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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - Director of the Pan American Health Organisation PAHO Sir George Alleyne has expressed satisfaction over the determined efforts being made by the government of St. Lucia along with other regional states at addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS. Sir George on Tuesday, August 13, 2002 wrapped up a one-day official visit to the island, where he held talks with key government officials, among them Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony, and External Affairs and International Trade Minister Senator Honourable Julian Hunte.

“There has been a concerted effort in terms of preparing a strategic plan, in terms of coming together of common protocols to be used,” said Sir George. “There has been determined efforts in terms of trying to negotiate some kind of sealing for antiretroviral drugs, which forms really one of the three basic pillars in approaching of the AIDS epidemic, the issue of prevention, the issue of care, the issue of treatment, these being the three main pillars. I am pleased with the concerted efforts that all the countries of the Caribbean are taking to address these three major aspects of the pandemic.”

Sir George went one step further and commended the Government of St. Lucia and the local media for placing great emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention. According to him, “One aspect that is terribly important and I know that the media has been involved very much, is trying to avoid the stigma and discrimination which makes it very difficult for those groups of persons to come into the open and receive their counselling that they really need. Government and the media must continue to dispel that stigma if the fight against this disease is to be won”

St. Lucia was one of the many Caribbean states which supported the candidature of Sir George to the directorship PAHO. Health Minister Hon. Damian Graves, who himself held talks with Sir George, noted that that support had paid off handsomely over the years. “PAHO has assisted us in many things including budgetary and technical support in both our primary health care and AIDS Prevention programmes. A lot of the consultancies that we have conducted in relation to health sector reform have in fact been financed and given much technical support by PAHO and therefore it’s an organization which is sought of our parent organization in terms of the Ministry of Health and the country at large and undoubtedly Sir George has a lot to do with that. He has in fact swung the pendulum in favour of the Caribbean and Latin America in terms of his tour of duty as Director of PAHO.”

Sir George, who is due to demit office in coming months, also visited the Gros-Islet Polyclinic, and was briefed on plans for a new General Hospital for St. Lucia, which is seen as a demonstration of the Ministry’s new thrust in health care for the future.


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