Derek Springer, director of PANCAP
Derek Springer, director of PANCAP

PANCAP aims to increase mobile population’s access to HIV prevention, care, support 

From the PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat – The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, will convene a regional forum for the development of a regional rights-based framework to increase access of migrants and mobile populations to HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. The forum will be held June 26-27 in Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

More than 40 participants – including government, private sector, civil society, migrant leaders, development partners and stakeholders – will engage in a review of information generated by the Legal Environment Assessments (LEA) processes, including those implemented by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC/COIN), as well as learning from previous work in support of migrant rights completed under the CARICOM PANCAP Global Fund Round 9 Grant and the PANCAP/GIZ Migrants Project.

According to Director of PANCAP Dereck Springer, “key outputs of the forum will lead to the development of a regional framework for strengthening the inclusion of migrant populations in the regional and national HIV responses.” He also highlighted that the forum will facilitate experts agreeing on partnership approaches to support regional and national-level implementation of these approaches.

Participants will also review lessons learned from previous work in the region in support of migrant rights completed under the PANCAP Global Fund Round 9 grant and the PANCAP/GIZ Migrants project. They will also identify existing and potential gaps in securing and expanding access to migrant and mobile populations to HIV and other health services. The forum will also encompass a discussion and agreement on priority issues and approaches to strengthen the access to health by migrant populations within the context of securing the right to health.

The PANCAP director emphasized that it was critical at this point in the region’s HIV response to have consensus on the involvement of migrants and mobile populations in regional and national-level HIV programmes. “Migrants form a significant part of the social and economic spheres in our region,” stated the director, “as such, it is critical that they are included in the planning and implementation of HIV prevention programmes that impact them. Migrants and mobile populations have long connected Caribbean countries to each other and with the outside world. Some populations relevant to HIV move fluidly among countries; yet barriers of language or legal status exclude many migrants from access to health services. This forum intends to address these problems with solutions that include a regional perspective.”

CARICOM governments have signed on to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other relevant international conventions as evidence of their commitment to protect and promote the rights of migrants. PANCAP commissioned research into the vulnerabilities of migrants in four Caribbean countries in 2012: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. These studies fed into efforts to integrate migrant-specific approaches into the work of national HIV programmes.

At the end of the project, migrant workers had access to HIV prevention services, including education and testing for HIV in the beneficiary countries. The PANCAP-GIZ Migrant Project worked in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Maarten, Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Each of the GIZ countries has developed a plan for migrants that is intended to sustain the interventions initiated under the GIZ project.