Representatives of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) are in Brazil on a mission led by the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts-Nevis, Denzil Douglas, to become acquainted with the Brazilian program for the prevention and treatment of STD/AIDS.
Through Saturday, April 9, the group will be visiting hospitals and centers for the distribution of medications and the treatment of HIV victims.
According to the director of the National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (STD/AIDS) Program, Pedro Chequer, the Caricom mission’s visit will strengthen scientific exchange among the countries.
Brazil, Chequer goes on to say, is ready to exchange experiences, mainly in the areas of prevention and treatment.
“The agreements that could be signed after the Caricom visit will signify a more integrated effort between Brazil and the Caribbean region, which has a prominent place on the global map of the epidemic,” he believes.
Guyana, for example, has an interest in quality control of anti-retroviral medications. Surinam intends to sign cooperation agreements for preventive programs in prospecting areas, where many Brazilians work illegally and don’t have easy access to health services.
The Brazilian government is interested in cooperating with Haiti, given Brazil’s political commitment as leader of the United Nations (UN) peace force in that country.
According to the most recent report of the UN Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), released last December, over 440 thousand people in the Caribbean region, children and adults alike, are HIV carriers.
The incidence of the disease among adults is 2.3%, trailing only sub-Saharan Africa, where it is 7.4%. The rate in Brazil is 0.6%.
In February, at the XVI Conference of Caricom Heads of Government, President Lula affirmed that Brazil is ready to move ahead with “audacity, flexibility, and generosity” to intensify negotiations with Caribbean countries.
“We shall stimulate business and cooperation projects that reach beyond trade relations. We shall foment the circulation of goods and services and shall seek greater interregional concentration on all levels.”
Translation: David Silberstein