(Gros Islet, Monday, 25 April 2015) Reducing HIV and key population stigma and discrimination with the aim of improving the quality of service delivery to key populations is the expected outcome of a week-long session that began on April 21. United and Strong was among the entities benefiting from the training of trainers organised by the Futures Group International in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, through attendance of the outreach officer and a youth volunteer.
“Stigma and discrimination is very important to us because it creates a problem for patients who are HIV positive for them to access health care. If you are an HIV positive patient you will understand what it is to go through a certain degree of stigma and discrimination and as result you don’t want to go to the health care services, you don’t want to go into society and you find that you feel like an outcast and you miss out. It not only affects them but affects every single one in society,” says Dr. Alisha Eugene, senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health. “This workshop is timely and appropriate as we work together to decrease stigma and discrimination in HIV positive patients and also in vulnerable patients within our society,”
Donovan Emmanuel, core facilitator for the stigma and discrimination training says, “Because each region is different and for key populations across the board there is that stigma that exists within these communities, the concerns when administering this programme are how would it benefit these communities and the people trained, how would they address their own issues. The programme also has two other components, which are a survey and a component looking at policy development. So we hope as they roll out their survey and the policy development, they will address these issues concerning these key populations as it relates to stigma and discrimination.”
Also in attendance were representatives of the Ministry of Health, Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Saint Lucia Red Cross, Bureau of Health Education, Department of Planning and National Development, Community Nursing, Department of Gender Relations and other local government and NGOs that interface with the public.
That this was not just another stigma and discrimination workshop, was noted by several participants, who felt the inclusion of members of key populations, such as persons living with HIV and the LGBTI community, helped foster a deeper understanding of the issue. The interactive and practical approach by facilitators and presenters was also praised by participants for helping absorbed a great deal of material in a short space of time.
U&S Executive Director Kenita Placide was among presenters, sharing her knowledge and experience in a presentation on Human Rights – PLHIV and Key Populations. She notes, “This training is important to address key concerns in the fight to reduce stigma and discrimination and the continued delivery of services in Saint Lucia. This training covered especially self-awareness and assessment, which is important in these future facilitators overcoming some of their own barriers in delivering training.”
The organisation is pleased to have been part of the training, which not only increased its capacity to assist members in dealing with stigma and discrimination but also allowed them to impress on health workers and CSO partners, the very real impact of stigma and discrimination on LGBTI persons.
Having participated in other workshops, Patricia Biscette Modeste of Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, says this one will contribute greatly particularly to her work with youth and key populations as stigma and discrimination is a major problem within her regular course of work. “People stigmatise and discriminate people for anything at all. Sometimes you discriminate you don’t even know, sometimes you even discriminate against your own self but you don’t even know. So it is really a big problem in all sectors in Saint Lucia and in the Caribbean.”
The training concluded with plans to deliver the training forward to groups within their sector, such as government workers particularly in the area of health care and civil society partners.
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United and Strong (U&S) is the strongest and most vocal LGBTI representative organisation in the small island Caribbean. A registered NGO, it houses the eastern hub of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) and the ILGA Women’s Secretariat.
We tweet @UnitedStrongSLu