Belize Participates in Global Consultation on National AIDS Responses

11 May 2011

Belize is one of six countries participating in a global study of national AIDS responses investigating the management and coordination of AIDS responses. The study focuses on the leadership and structures of coordination, inclusive and multi-sector responses, financing of AIDS response, and the participation of civil society organizations. The six countries being consulted are Belize, Malawi, Tanzania, India, Indonesia, and El Salvador. The study is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in coordination with the Belize National AIDS Commission / Country Coordinating Mechanism.

As part of the study a country consultation was held in Belize, on May 11, 2011, bringing together sector ministries, international development partners, civil society, the private sector and faith based communities. The workshop included (i) a presentation of the preliminary findings (ii) discussion, modification and validation of the main Belize case study findings, (iii) discussion and identification of lessons other countries can learn from the Belize experience, and (iv) identification of policy recommendations to improve AIDS coordination in Belize.

Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, those working to halt and reverse the spread of the epidemic have learnt that responses need to be multi-sectoral and involve key stakeholders from government, civil society and international development partners. The concept of country ownership lies at the heart of this model: ownership of policies and strategies, processes and systems; and ownership of technical, financial and human resources. Also, donors need to harmonize their efforts and align them with country priorities that support or reinforce country-owned development.

In Belize the AIDS epidemic poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of its citizens. From 1986 to the end of 2009 more than 5,000 HIV infections have been reported. The latest UNAIDS estimates state that Belize has a prevalence rate of 2.3%. However, for the past two years Belize has experienced lower numbers for new reported infections, which have decreased by 14.1% when compared with 2008. This provides good indications that the country has begun the reversal of the spread of HIV, although vigilance and continuing efforts remain critical.

The consultations and discussions at the multi-sector workshop will contribute to a Comparative Experience Paper on National Coordination of AIDS Responses, documenting good practice and success in national AIDS coordination in the six countries. The successes achieved in coordination and management of the response will be shared with other countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and the world.

It is hoped that the national discussion on the complexities of coordinating a comprehensive nationally-owned response will reinforce the partnerships and commitments to ensure that Belize continues to make progress in the response to AIDS and that lessons learnt from the various countries will help other Governments to formulate strategies that would strengthen the governance of their AIDS responses.

The UNDP Team implementing the national consultation includes: Ms. Maria Tallarico, Regional Team Leader HIV/AIDS, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), UNDP Regional Center, Panama; Mr. Andrea Pastorelli, Programme Specialist, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP New York; and Ms. Karin Santi, Policy Specialist AIDS and Governance, UNDP New York.