The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, will host a regional meeting to provide guidance on the implementation of the Regional Framework on Migrant Health and Rights on 10 – 11 April 2019 in Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Framework was developed by stakeholders at the Regional Forum on Migrants’ and Mobile Populations’ Health and Rights in June 2018 with funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The purpose of the Framework is to increase the access of migrants and mobile populations to HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. The Framework provides a roadmap for equitable and non-discriminatory access to health care services across the Caribbean for mobile and migrant populations regardless of age, race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, property, birth or other status.

The Framework was subsequently endorsed by the Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC – the technical committee of the PANCAP Executive Board), PANCAP Executive Board and the Council for Human and Social Development – Ministers of Health (COHSOD). The PACC recommended that PANCAP identify a model to guide countries in operationalising the Framework within their country context.  This will be the focus of the upcoming regional meeting.

The meeting is occurring a few weeks after Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago announced that mi­grants will re­ceive the same free health care as na­tion­als, par­tic­u­lar­ly in re­la­tion to sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases.

The Minister was speaking at the Seventh Meeting of National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners held on 11 – 13 March in Port-of-Spain.  The Minister further stated, “We have tak­en a de­ci­sion in Trinidad and To­ba­go, you know we have Venezue­lan mi­grants, to treat them as na­tion­als. Be­cause mi­grants do not live in iso­la­tion in the coun­tries they mi­grate to. They mix with the rest of the pop­u­la­tion; they in­te­grate them­selves with the en­vi­ron­ment.

So we have tak­en a pol­i­cy de­ci­sion at the Min­istry of Health to treat all mi­grants re­gard­less of their coun­try of ori­gin as cit­i­zens of Trinidad and To­ba­go when it comes to pub­lic health”.

PANCAP Director Dereck Springer

PANCAP Director, Dereck Springer stated that the Minister’s announcement could not be more timely as a pivotal aspect of the upcoming meeting will be the input provided by participants for finalising a guidance document on how to implement the Framework on Migrant Health and Rights within their country context.

The Director further highlighted that the objectives of the meeting are to share the findings of a desk review on models/guidance for operationalising the Framework on Migrants Health and Rights and validate the findings of an assessment of the needs of countries’ health systems to provide services for migrants.

Participants will include Port Health Medical Officers, Representatives of Ministries of National Security and Border Affairs, Legal officers and Protection Officers, International Development partners, Permanent Secretaries, Ministries of Health, Chief Medical Officers, National AIDS Programme Managers, Immigration Officers, Civil society partners that work with key populations, Faith Leaders, Youth Leaders, Private Sector, Academia, the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  – The UN Refugee Agency.