Ministry launches new HIV National Strategic Plan

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, on Tuesday, officially launched the new HIV National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2021-2025, which aims to strengthen the national response to HIV/AIDS.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

The Minister highlighted that Guyana aims to reach the UNAID 90-90-90 goal, which is to ensure 90 per cent of the persons in Guyana know their HIV status, 90 per cent of the persons who are living with the virus receive treatment (antiretroviral therapy) and 90 per cent of those who receive treatment are virally supressed.

He made this statement in his address at the launch, which also featured participation from the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) and UNAIDS.  Minister Anthony said there are many steps along the way towards the elimination of AIDS.

“We still have a lot of work to be done over the next five years if we are going to reach the target and move beyond that to achieve what we aspire for by 2025… These targets might look like a simple number to achieve, but there is a lot of underlying work to do.”

Dr. Anthony noted the contribution from the various stakeholders which strengthened the plan and made it more comprehensive.

He also acknowledged the challenges and weaknesses over the years, but pointed out the Government’s continued commitment to addressing them and finding new methodologies to ensure that the 2025 target is met.

Minister Anthony said when the PPP/C came into office in August, there was a shortage of vital medicines, reagents and testing kits, which affected the testing protocol. The Government rectified those deficiencies and has worked to minimise problems that could interrupt the programmes.

Minister Anthony said for 2021, the goal is to have a comprehensive PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) programme. The objective is to make sure anyone who is at risk can access PrEP.  Increasing self-testing is another area of focus, as well as reducing the burden of other sexually transmitted infections.

Additionally, there are plans to submit a proposal to the Global Fund for additional capital to combat HIV.

Meanwhile, Consultant, Mr. Dereck Springer during his presentation, recognised the commitment of stakeholders to increase the national response to AIDS. While there have been achievements, he said, there are still numerous challenges which hamper the response, which must be resolved.

Mr. Springer said there continues to be dysfunctional coordination structures, high levels of stigma and discrimination, a weak paper-based monitoring and evaluating system, frequent stock-outs of medication and high dependence on expert human resources in service delivery.

Additionally, Dr. Rhonda Moore, Programme Manager – NAPS said the plan will see Guyana laying the foundation over the next five years to achieve the global commitment of ending AIDS by 2030.

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