Regional lawmakers challenged to implement Anti-Discrimination Bill

first_imgThe Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) wrapped up the two-day Regional Parliamentarians Forum, with recommendations from participants for a non-partisan approach to issues related to stigma, discrimination, and HIV transmission.Approximately 60 regional parliamentarians engaged in intense discussions from May 30 to 31, in Kingston, Jamaica. The delegation from Guyana included Minister within the Education Ministry, Nicolette Henry; Citizenship Minister Winston Felix and Opposition parliamentarian, Dr Frank Anthony.During the session, several recommendations were proposed and agreed upon by the regional lawmakers. These include, “issues involving the role of stigma and discrimination in perpetuating HIV transmission should be non-partisan and every effort must be made to protect vulnerable populations susceptible to HIV transmission, including youths and LGBT”.They also advocated for more sensitisation of the public about the role that stigma and discrimination play in the transmission of HIV. Among the public education tools recommended were the use of the school curriculum to propagate the anti-discrimination message, community education, leveraging the influence of faith-based leaders, collaborating with Parent-Teacher Associations and other groups related to education.Regional parliamentarians, civil society leaders and UN partners at the PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum In addition, a recommendation was made for intensified oversight by parliamentarians to ensure that health-care providers and law enforcement were not discriminating against HIV-positive persons and key populations.The parliamentarians also advocated for a broad-based stakeholder engagement to discuss issues affecting key populations with emphasis on stigma, discrimination, and HIV transmission.Moreover, they proposed the creation of a mechanism through which parliamentarians can meet to collaborate and share best practices to further the agenda to end AIDS by 2030. In particular, the establishment of a regional coordinating committee for parliamentarians was recommended. This body would serve to further the discussions and issues raised at the Regional Parliamentarians Forum with the overarching aim of formulating policies and strategies to protect vulnerable groups that can be advocated at the policymaking level.Furthermore, parliamentarians recommended a workshop for engagement with regional parliamentarians; Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and faith-based organisations on the 90-90-90 targets and strategies to eliminate AIDS by 2030.Additionally, youth also formed a large part of the discussions and as such, it was recommended that countries invest in public awareness campaigns targeted at the youth population on condom use and HIV transmission.In closing remarks, Caricom Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, challenged all parliamentarians in attendance to commence the implementation of the Caricom Model Anti-Discrimination Bill. Ambassador Soeknandan pointed out that the model was approved in 2012, yet no efforts were made by member countries to adopt the recommendations proposed by the model.  To this end, the Deputy Secretary General further tasked parliamentarians with taking immediate steps to adopt the recommendations of the model with the overarching aim of full implementation by July 2018.Following unanimous agreement, Ambassador Soeknandan requested that parliamentarians provide consistent updates on the progress of implementing the Model Anti-Discrimination Bill and emphasised that the overall benefit would be the protection of vulnerable populations, more key populations accessing health services and testing for HIV, reduction in HIV transmission and deaths from AIDS.The PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum was a platform for parliamentarians from across the Region to discuss their involvement in ending HIV and AIDS. Government Ministers and members of the Opposition participated.The Forum, which is funded by the Global Fund and facilitated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), formed part of a wider intervention programme created by PANCAP within its Justice For All (JFA) Roadmap.last_img read more

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