Message by the Secretary-General of CARICOM, Amb. Irwin LaRocque on the Occasion of World Aids Day 2013
As we commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December and its significance, we do so at a time when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in its fortieth year of existence, has renewed and heightened its focus on its reason for being. A Community for All is much more than a tagline! Rather, it reflects the “lifeline” extended to us by the Founding Fathers, at Chaguaramas in 1973. This Twenty-Fifth World AIDS Day observance under the theme: Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infection, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related death, in many ways speaks to this lifeline and could not be more timely.
As Secretary-General of CARICOM, I am pleased to be part of the leadership of the HIV and AIDS response in the Caribbean, through the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) mechanism, and to be associated with the many strides that have been made in confronting this epidemic. And while I look forward to being part of history in the making, with respect to the Caribbean being the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015, I am very conscious that the promise of an AIDS free-generation, characterised by Zero new HIV infection, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related death, though a real possibility, is yet some distance off.
I am conscious also that the sustainable development of this Region is tied to its human and social development which ensures social justice and equality for all. I therefore use this opportunity to publicly commend the direction of PANCAP in its Justice for All Programme, which seeks to tackle the difficult issues of justice and human rights through respect and partnerships, in community conversations around this Region.
I add my voice to those conversations by recalling the preamble to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which alluded to the Charter of Civil Society’s reaffirmation of the human rights of all our people. I am also mindful of the Nassau Declaration on Health 2001 which began with the phrase: “Cognizant of the critical role of health in the economic development of our people and overawed by the prospect that our current health problems, especially HIV/AIDS, may impede such development through the devastation of our human capital”. In recalling those statements, I wish to remind everyone of the commitment to work towards creating the conditions for equitable access by every Community citizen to adequate health care.
The theme of this year’s observance: Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infection, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related death, resonates with the spirit of that Nassau Declaration, “the Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”. On this World AIDS Day, let us renew our commitment to creating more of that wealth.