Thursday, February 22, 2018

Group: Govt not serious about AIDS


board chairman: Dale Enoch

Mark Fraser

PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the Ministry of the People and Social Development have been accused of taking a “lethargic” approach to the support of persons living with HIV/AIDS.

In a media statement on Monday, Dale Enoch, chairman of the Board of Community Action Resource (CARe), said the organisation has been kept waiting for close to a year for the release of a subvention via Government’s 2014 Social Sector Investment Programme.

The programme forms part of the national budget geared towards assisting non-governmental organisations in their mandate to improve the lives of citizens in need.

“The organisation has received contradictory reports from Government officials for almost a year with respect to when and how the funds would be released,” Enoch stated.

He said CARe has complied with the ministry’s multiple requests to examine the organisation’s files and accounts and has also conducted two comprehensive audits.

According to Enoch, the then minister, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, was contacted in February, and gave the the assurance the matter would receive his full attention.

After his removal in March, correspondence “pleading” for intervention into the matter was sent to the Prime Minister, who assumed responsibility for the Ministry of the People and Social Development following Ramadharsingh’s dismissal over allegations of misconduct in office.

Enoch said the organisation is yet to receive a response from Persad-Bissessar.

“Government cannot be serious about its commitment to dealing with HIV, yet deny funding to an organisation that is doing the work and making the difference for so many years,” said Enoch.

He said 25-year-old CARe, based in Barataria, “serves an important role in improving the lives of people living with and affected by HIV”.

“We barely manage to keep our doors open through the goodwill of members and private individuals, so that we could fulfil our obligations to external agencies to continue existing projects, and provide a space for persons living with and affected by HIV to access much needed psycho-social support,” Enoch stated.

The organisation lists its mission as looking to provide sustainable programmes and services that “empower communities to change attitudes and behaviours of and towards those affected by HIV”.