Statements and Webcast
H. E. Mr. Rudyard Spencer, Minister of Health
8 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
RUDYARD SPENCER, Minister of Health of Jamaica, said that the progress made in Jamaica was noteworthy, as there was an 18 per cent decline in the number of persons reported with advanced HIV and AIDS in 2009 compared to the previous year. AIDS deaths had declined significantly, decreasing from 665 in 2004 to 378 in 2009. Paediatric AIDS declined by 19 per cent, decreasing from 32 cases in 2008 to 26 cases in 2009. The expansion of HIV testing in the public sector had resulted in coverage for about 84 per cent of pregnant women and 98 per cent of babies delivered in the public sector. Early testing had resulted in timely provision of antiretroviral treatment leading to reduced mother to child transmission, which now stood at less than five per cent.
Despite these advances, Jamaica faced challenges relating to inadequate human resources to scale up testing, treatment and support services, he said. The tight fiscal space undermined the Government’s commitment to advance in any significant way effective HIV and AIDS strategies. The country would need the continued consistent support of the donor community not just to maintain the gains, but to make leaps forward regarding international HIV/AIDS targets. Eliminating stigma and discrimination against those infected also constituted an unfinished agenda, so Jamaica was moving to make amendments to the Public Health Act and relevant Public Health Regulations, removing provisions regarded as discriminatory. The Declaration of Commitment signed by Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller in April 2011 demonstrated a commitment at the highest level of political leadership. Jamaica gave its commitment that the symbolic gesture would be supported by practical interventions to reduce discrimination and increase access for all persons, especially those who were marginalized, such as men who had sex with men, sex workers and drug users.