Guyana’s Nicolette Henry elected to chair Caribbean mechanism against HIV/AIDS

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 April 2017, 21:53 by Denis Chabrol

From L – R Director of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, Mr. Dereck Springer, Prof. Donald Simeon, new Chair Hon Nicolette Henry and new Vice Chair Prof J. Peter Figueroa during the PANCAP Regional Coordinating Mechanism

The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) for the current three-year new Global Fund Project has elected Guyana’s Junior Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry and  Prof. J. Peter Figueroa of The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus as the new Chair and Vice Chair.

They were elected during the First Meeting of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) which was convened on 4-6 April 2017 in Kingston, Jamaica.

The three-year grant, in the amount of US$5,075,234 began on 1 October 2016 and will end on 30 September 2019. PANCAP said the meeting received a Status Report on the implementation of the new PANCAP Global Fund grant which highlighted the programmatic achievements, financial disbursements and expenditures as at 31 March 2017 and provided strategic guidance to the Principal Recipient, CARICOM Secretariat, on how to achieve the goals of the grant.

“The grant aims to contribute to the removal of barriers that impede access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services for key populations, thereby promoting the achievement of regional HIV targets,” PANCAP said in a statement.

The regional body said in addition to the election of the new Chair and Vice Chair, the RCM conducted an orientation of members on governance, oversight functions, management of conflicts of interest, and internal and external communication as well as a reviewing and endorsing of its oversight role and communications plan.

The Sub-recipient is the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, Sub-sub-recipients are the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), while the collaborating partners are the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+) and The University of the West Indies – Health Economics Unit (UWI-HEU).

Henry expressed appreciation to the RCM for electing her and committed to an inclusive approach.  She invited members to contribute to the work of the body and thanked the former Vice-chair Professor Donald Simeon, for his excellent leadership and guidance during his tenure.

Minister Henry has over 20 years of experience providing technical guidance and support required for the planning, implementation, and strengthening of HIV public health programmes. She served as a Programme Development and Public Health Specialist (HIV Prevention) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Global AIDs Programme Guyana.

Minister Henry is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Health and is the holder of a Master of Public Health and a Degree in Pharmacy.

The new Vice Chair, Professor J. Peter Figueroa stated that it was an honour and privilege to serve in this capacity and committed to work with the Chair and all members to achieve the goals of the Global Fund grant. Dr. Figueroa is Professor of Public Health, Epidemiology and HIV and AIDS at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus where he has developed a doctorate programme in public health. He was formerly the Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health of Jamaica and for many years the Chief Epidemiologist and Director of the National HIV/STI Programme in Jamaica. He is also a Scientific Secretary of the Caribbean Health Research Council and the former Chair of the Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC) and Vice Chair of the Executive Board of PANCAP.

Voting members of the RCM include Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) of Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and the  Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Regional Coordinating Mechanism (OECS RCM), The University of the West Indies (UWI), Pan Caribbean Business Coalition, Caribbean (PCBC), Conference of Churches (CCC), representatives of key population groups; CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Corp. (CYA), Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).  Non-voting members represent the US President’s Emergency (PEPFAR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU) and the RCM Secretariat.

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.