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Funds from Clinton Foundation to begin flowing this Summer

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - Health officials have been responding to what they say are unsubstantiated claims emanating from the print media, that representatives of the Bill Clinton Foundation last week cut short a crucial two day meeting aimed at further observing St. Lucia’s activities in relation to HIV/AIDS.

According to Acting Director of the National HIV/AIDS Programme Nahum Jn. Baptiste, the two-day visit by the two-member delegation from the Bill Clinton Foundation took place as was reported, however he says reports of the visit being aborted were exaggerated.

In his words previous communication between the delegation and local health officials made it clear that a member of the delegation would have to leave for St. Vincent to conduct talks with officials there. The other delegation member Jn Baptiste says stayed on and held talks with several health personnel on activities initiated since the Foundation’s last visit in April of this year.

Health officials have also responded to claims made in the press that crucial agencies like the AIDS Action Foundation engaged in the fight against HIVAIDS were side stepped and left out in the process. “This visit was initiated by the Clinton Foundation and they, not us, requested who they would need at those meetings. Again this was not quite accurate,” said Jn. Baptiste.

Jn. Baptiste says health officials are also taking umbrage to claims made over alleged problem with the HIV/AIDS national plan. “The reporter mentioned that the plans were due at the end of this month and when Foundation members arrived they was not yes, or national plan has been delayed a bit however we are not using the national plan to implement the Foundation activities. What we have been doing is ensuring that the objectives in our national plan, which is now being developed, is consistent with that of the Clinton Foundation,” he said.

Health officials will make a presentation of the Foundation’s business plans to the Cabinet of Ministers, as part of the requirements before the release of the funds sometime this summer.

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