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Six Strategies Announced by PAHO as Rights Based approach to mental health comes into Effect



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


November 1, 2023 – A new attitude to how mental health is handled has been effectuated with a rights-based approach, emphasized by PAHO Member States.

This comes as the overall attitude to mental health has many shortcomings, one of the most prevalent being the rights of people struggling with mental health disregarded, as mentioned by Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director.

He expressed that people within this cohort often face stigma and discrimination, leading to lack of access to quality care as well as equal opportunity to take part in general community life.

Not only that, the director, speaking on Tuesday October 10th at PAHO TV on YouTube, also said people with mental health struggles are sometimes deprived of their ability to make personal decisions and be subject to coercive practices.

Additionally, Barbosa maintained that many people in the Americas are confined to reside in psychiatric facilities for treatment and having their chance to to be reintegrated into society taken.

“Approximately, 28 percent of these in-patient stays in the region are for a period of more than five years.”

He informed that many countries have mental health laws, 60 percent that is, in the Americas, but fail to comply with the international human rights tools such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Considering these facts, the director called for swift deinstitutionalization, allowing people to break from confinement and instead be able to tap community-based services to promote “optimal care, treatment, support and inclusivity.”

The development of the rights based approach rests against the approval of the new Strategy for Improving Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Region of the Americas, at the 60th PAHO Directing Council, held on Septmeber 27th, announced in a PAHO Press Release.

Revealed by the press release, the regional strategy established six lines of action to be put into effect, to facilitate a more rights-based approach to mental health.

It says:

  1. Build mental health leadership, governance, and multi-sectoral partnerships, and integrate mental health in all policies;
  2. Improve the availability, accessibility, and quality of community-based services for mental health conditions, and support the advance of deinstitutionalization;
  3. Advance mental health promotion and prevention strategies and activities throughout the life course;
  4. Reinforce the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency contexts;
  5. Strengthen data, evidence, and research;
  6. Make suicide prevention a national whole-of-government priority and build multisectoral capacity to respond to people affected by suicidal behaviors.


Deaths due to HIV/AIDS down 50 percent as World Aids Day marked Dec 1



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 


December 5, 2023 – Deaths due to HIV/AIDS have been cut dramatically by fifty percent in the past thirteen years and on December 1, which is the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization called on communities to stand up to reduce the risks even further.  The 2023 theme is “Let Communities Lead” as a testament to the notion, shared by the WHO, that “we can end AIDS with communities leading the way.”

In the past five decades, treatment surrounding AIDS has increased exponentially and stigma is decreasing. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 69% since the peak in 2004 and by 51% since 2010. In 2022, around 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 2.0 million people in 2004 and 1.3 million people in 2010.

“Much more than a celebration of the achievements of communities, it is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership role,”  the WHO encourages.

The WHO is now focused on spreading awareness about the status of the pandemic and encouraging progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care around the world.

Locally, among the events planned in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the annual Surf and Turf Horse Racing night on Friday 8th December at Opus Wine Bar and Grill, residents are invited for an evening of food, luck, and chances. All proceeds go towards the Turks and Caicos AIDS Awareness Foundation and Edward Gartland Youth Center.

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What TCI Ministry of Health says about World AIDS Day 2023 under the theme: “Let Communities Lead”  



#TurksandCaicos, December 5, 2023 – World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1st, dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic and mourning those who have died from the disease. It is also an opportunity to show support for people living with HIV and to promote the importance of community-driven efforts in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

HIV remains a major global public health issue, having claimed 40.4 million [32.9–51.3 million] lives so far with ongoing transmission in all countries globally; with some countries reporting increasing trends in new infections when previously on the decline. There were an estimated 39.0 million [33.1–45.7 million] people living with HIV at the end of 2022.

In the Latin American and Caribbean region, around 2.5 million people are living with HIV. In 2022, approximately 130,000 people acquired the virus, and 33,000 lost their lives due to AIDS-related causes. There is no cure for HIV infection. HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

HIV is a preventable disease. The risk of HIV infection can be reduced by:

  • Using a male or female condom during sex. Condoms are readily available from the Ministry of Health, Primary Care Clinics and other outlets free of cost
  • Being tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections regularly
  • Using harm reduction services for people who inject and use drugs
  • Doctors may suggest medicines and medical devices to help prevent HIV, including antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), including oral pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • ARVs can also be used to prevent mothers from passing HIV to their children.

People taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and who have no evidence of virus in the blood will not pass HIV on to their sexual partners. Access to testing and ART is an important part of preventing HIV.

Commenting on the importance of observing World AIDS Day, the Minister of Health and Human Services – Honourable Shaun D. Malcolm emphasized that “On this World AIDS Day, the global community comes together under the theme “Let Communities Lead” to emphasize the pivotal role communities play in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Recognizing the power of collective action, this year’s focus is on empowering and amplifying the voices of communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Minister Malcolm is appealing to all residents of the TCI to play their part in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to work together as one”.

Communities are the heartbeat of the response to HIV/AIDS, fostering support networks, reducing stigma, and providing vital education. This approach aligns with the vision of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which underscores the importance of community-led initiatives in their commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic. Community leaders and civic societies can lead this charge by:

  • Helping to reach vulnerable, stigmatized and other difficult-to-reach populations;
  • Speaking out and assist in combating stigma and discrimination to ensure that everyone feels safe to access HIV services;
  • Reaching out to key and vulnerable populations and assist them to access HIV services when needed;
  • Ensuring that adolescents, youth at risk, pregnant women and infants receive adequate care that incorporates HIV;
  • Supporting health workers to provide HIV services to everyone in the community.

To commemorate World AIDS Day, we invite you to explore PAHO’s dedicated campaign page″>here, where you can find resources, stories of resilience, and information on how communities across the globe are leading the charge against HIV/AIDS. Let us stand united, hand in hand with communities, as we strive for a world where no one is left behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Ministry of Health and Human Services is encouraging everyone to wear red on 1 December 2023 to show solidarity, raise awareness, and honour those affected by HIV/AIDS.

HIV testing and counselling is available at the Primary Health Care Clinics across the Turks and Caicos Islands. Follow the Health Promotion and Advocacy Units Facebook page for additional information on

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Caribbean News

CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”



Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.

Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative.  Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many.  Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.

She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.

PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines.  Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region. 

During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.

Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.

During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues.  CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.

The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader. 


Dr. Joy St. John

Executive Director, CARPHA

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