World AIDS Day 2018

 

The spotlight for World AIDS Day 2018 is on HIV testing. There are 37 million people living with HIV globally, the highest number ever. Knowing your HIV status has many advantages, yet a quarter of persons infected with the virus do not know that they have the virus. The Turks and Caicos joins the rest of the world in observing World AIDS Day which is observed on the December 1st every year. This December 1st marks 30 years since the first world AIDS Day. The local theme for this year is “One Drop is All It Takes, Know Your Status, Get Tested”.

 

“Testing is an essential entry point to accessing HIV treatment, prevention, care and support services. People who test positive for HIV can be immediately linked to treatment (antiretroviral therapy) to keep them alive and well. Most persons do not understand that when viral load suppression is reached, there is the prevention of transmission of the virus,” stated Aldora Robinson Director of Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit. She further stated; “That it is critical that when persons are placed on treatment they understand it is for life and requires individuals to religiously take their medication everyday.”

 

Knowing your HIV status also empowers people to make informed decisions about how they can prevent HIV infection.  From 1984 until the end of 2017, 627 people were diagnosed with HIV in the Turks and Caicos. At the end of 2017 there were a total of 514 persons living with HIV in the Turks and Caicos Islands with an estimated prevalence of 1.29% in the general population. The highest prevalence was observed among persons who were in the 65+ years age group in 2017, one may wonder why are older persons being diagnosed with HIV. Could it be that they are getting tested late? This is a lot of food for thought.

 

The Minister of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services, Honorable Edwin Astwood, stated that; “We must challenge the stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV in our society.” Hon. Astwood further stated that; “These two social attitudes continue to act as threats and barriers to the success of our response to HIV.” Hon. Astwood encouraged persons to get the facts and remove the barriers that prevent person’s from getting tested and seeking treatment.

 

To address the prevalence of HIV within the Turks and Caicos the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services have implemented a number of strategies through its Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit. There has not been a HIV positive baby born in the Turks and Caicos Islands since 2007. The Ministry is vigorously working towards the 90 90 90 global targets, point-of-care testing which is free has been implemented within all governments clinics. The private sector has also benefitted from training for point-of-care testing and should therefore, be offering point-of-care testing at patient encounter.

 

Mobile HIV testing has increased where HIV testing is being done in communities. Private businesses, government offices and churches have also benefitted from these services. Antiretroviral drugs (HIV medication) have been offered free of charge in country since 2005. The Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit uses various platforms to educate the general public and target groups. Some examples of the range of approaches used to advance HIV education and awareness includes conferences, health matters, radio commercials, workshops, peer education for school based students, social media such as Facebook pages and Instagram. There is also a robust condom distribution programme where condoms are distributed for free. All blood which is transfused in TCI is 100% from voluntary donors and is screened for HIV and other diseases. Other HIV strategies include collaboration with NGOs, a functioning HIV multi-sectoral committee that also has a steering committee, participation in regional meetings (e.g. PAHO, PANCAP etc.) and recently we hosted 2 stigma and discrimination training workshops for health care providers.

The Ministry is asking persons to do their part your health is your right take it and live positively.

 

Facts about HIV

How HIV is Transmitted:

  • Through mother-to-child transmission - The transmission between an infected mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
  • Through unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or unprotected oral sex with an infected person.
  • Transfusion of contaminated blood or blood products or transplantation of contaminated tissue or organs.
  • The sharing of contaminated injecting equipment (needles, syringes or tattooing equipment) and solutions.
  • Through the use of contaminated surgical equipment and other sharp instruments.

To prevent HIV infection:

  • Abstaining from sexual activity.
  • Practice safe sexual behaviours such as using condoms properly during sexual intercourse at all times.
  • Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV to prevent onward transmission.
  • Avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use and properly dispose of sterile needles and syringes.
  • If you have HIV, start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible for your own health and to prevent HIV transmission to your sexual or drug-using partner or to your infant (if you are pregnant or breastfeeding).

 

ENDS

CARIBBEAN LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAMME TO BE LAUNCHED IN TURKS AND CAICOS

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams was pleased to host a delegation from the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD) to the Turks and Caicos Islands during the period November 26th – 27th, 2018 to discuss the launch of the Caribbean Leadership Project (CLP) in the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

The CLP was developed to assist member states across the region to build current and future leadership capabilities in the public sector and elsewhere.

The programme includes a number of specialized courses such as:

  1. The First Time Leader Development Programme which is designed to assist persons in becoming a Manager, Team Leader or Supervisor for the first time by equipping them with the skills needed to transition to becoming results oriented, and equipped to engage with their supervisee, stakeholders and clients.
  2. Mid-Level Leadership Development Programme which is designed to equip mid-level leaders with the leadership competencies required for self-leadership, team leadership and leading for effective client services.
  3. The Transformational Leadership Development Programme which is designed to support the development of high potential leaders who are ideally being considered for succession to top level leadership roles in public sector organizations.  It aims to help improve self-awareness, emotional intelligence, as well as to develop greater effectiveness in leading teams in complexity, across organizational boundaries and transformation.

Mr. Devon Rowe Executive Director of CARICAD accompanied by Dr. Lois Parkes who is the Regional Project Manager for the Caribbean Leadership Project and Mrs. Arlene Mc Comie who is leading on the Capacity Assessment for Training Institutes across the Caribbean, took the time whilst in the Turks and Caicos to meet with the Deputy Governor and HR Director Mark Greenway to speak on how the programs can be incorporated into TCIG’s training programs for 2019/2020 and also met with the Premier Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson and the Chamber of Commerce President Mr. Kyle Smith.

Commenting on the visit, Mr. Rowe advised that the Caribbean Leadership Project would be absorbed into CARICAD as of July 2019 when the project ends. Mr. Rowe was pleased that the materials developed during the execution of project would be available to the Turks and Caicos.  He stated; “The aim of the programme is to strategically strengthen the next generation of Caribbean leaders to more effectively contribute and support gender-sensitive public sector reform, regional integration and economic growth. The programme will therefore seek to foster regional approaches for the sustainability of leadership development.” He also advised that the project will be executed within the context of the realities related to the needs and culture of the Caribbean Region. Mr. Rowe expressed his thanks to the officials for the ideas and contributions received for the future focus of the programme.

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service Anya Williams also commenting on the success of the visit said; “Training and development is a major part of our focus in the public service of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  In addition to in house training offered by our Training Unit, we continue to partner with key agencies to bring vital training programs to the TCI.  We are excited about the launch of the CLP in the Turks and Caicos in 2020 and look forward to working with CARICAD which is no stranger to the TCI, having recently assisted in the drafting of the Irma/Maria Recovery Plan.

“As a member of the Board of Directors of CARICAD I intend to work closely with the Executive Director and my colleagues and other member states to continue to develop programs that will greatly assist in helping to transform our public sectors across the region.”

 

 

 

DEPUTY SECRETARY STUART TAYLOR SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES LEGAL STUDIES

The Turks and Caicos Civil Service welcomes the return of Deputy Secretary Stuart Taylor and is pleased to congratulate him on the recent completion of his legal studies.

Mr. Taylor is a career civil servant, having dedicated over 30 years of service to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.  He began his career in 1983 as the Deputy Registrar of Lands and has since held the positions of: Superintendent Counterpart in the Offshore Finance Department now the Financial Services Commission; Deputy Chief Accountant in charge of the Providenciales Treasury; Deputy Revenue Controller in charge of the Providenciales Revenue Control Unit; Collector of Customs in charge of the Customs Department and in 2013 was promoted to the post of Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Border Control and Labour, a post he held prior to departing the islands in September 2014 on study leave.

Wanting to further his career in the public service and to fill a gap which he deemed necessary across several areas of the service, Mr. Taylor through the assistance of the Civil Service Professional Development Fund along with personal funds, decided to pursue studies in the field of Law at Buckingham University in Buckingham England, where he successfully completed an LLB (Hons) 2.1, LLM International and Commercial Law (Merit), Financial Services Law Specialist and was a Bar Professional Training Course candidate. 

Commenting on his return and the completion of his studies Mr. Taylor said;It is an honour to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage Maritime and Gaming and I am proud to be a part of a team that plays such an important role in Government. As I embark on this new journey, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the persons that supported me over the years and look forward to using the skills and knowledge acquired abroad to make meaningful contributions to the advancement and further development of the Turks and Caicos Islands.” 

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service Anya Williams in welcoming Mr. Taylor back to the service stated; “It is a privilege to welcome Mr. Stuart Taylor back to the Turks and Caicos Islands civil service and to congratulate him on the recent completion of his studies.  His newly acquired legal background will be an asset to the TCIG and I am certain will help to further propel him in his career goals.  Mr. Taylor since returning, has been assigned to the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Heritage and will be leading on a number of key initiatives in that ministry including but not limited to the establishment of the new Gaming Commission.  We certainly wish him well on his new role and do expect great results from him.”