Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - The World Bank has assured Caribbean
leaders of its commitment to supporting the region in tackling HIV/AIDS, a major
health and development challenge. The St. Lucia HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control
project, has received World Bank funding of EC$21.1 million.
Speaking at the recent launch of the St. Lucia HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control
project, representative of the World Bank, Mary Melusa, said until the current
trend of HIV/AIDS was reversed, the World Bank’s vision for a world free of
poverty would never become a reality.
According to Ms. Melusa, HIV/AIDS is a growing impediment to development and
poverty alleviation in many countries. She added that the disease placed a
burden on health care systems, competing for scarce resources needed for other
productive investments. Recent estimates suggest that there are 440,000 people
living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. Over 80,000 children have been orphaned
“The highest number of people living with HIV in the Caribbean is in the most
productive age group from 15-49 years. These are today’s and tomorrow parents
and labour force. When they become infected with the virus the consequences are
more children without parents, classrooms without teachers, farms without
workers, and hospitals without doctors and nurses,” she said, adding, “just as
we mobilise for natural disaster, such as a hurricane, we must also mobilize for
the battle against HIV/AIDS, a battle for the Caribbean‘s future and that of its
“In 2001, the World Bank approved 155 million dollars for the Caribbean
multi-country HIV/AIDS program, and since 1986, has committed over 2 billion
dollars to HIV/AIDS related projects worldwide”, Ms. Melusa informed.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Mr. Fedalis Williams
said the World Bank funded St. Lucia HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project
also had other benefits for the overall health system. He added that the funds
would make it possible for all social partners to intervene collaboratively in
combating the pandemic.
“The structures which we strengthen, made possible from these resources will
also enable us to intervene more decisively in the fight against other lifestyle
diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, the non-communicable ones. The
experience we gather and the skills we develop from this project in the area of
behavioural change are also applicable in the fight against other diseases,” Mr.
However, Mr. Williams lamented that efforts towards the battle against HIV/AIDS
continued to be hampered by issues of ignorance, stigma, discrimination, miss
information and a lack of confidentiality.