Guyanese PNC candidate appeals for an end to stigma and discrimination… promises to continue helping women & children: a Rawle Nelson Exclusive for Bajan Reporter

“I therefore use this opportunity to call on all in recognizing the importance of committing to a worthy and important cause as together we work towards the reduction of stigma and discrimination,” Dr Harding said in a passionate appeal.

Presidential hopeful of the PNC and respected women and youth activist, Dr. Faith Harding has issued a passionate appeal for all stakeholders to contribute to the positive development of all orphans and those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS stressing that no child or person affected by HIV/AIDS should continue to face stigma and discrimination.

Dr. Harding who believes that she can take the PNC to victory at the 2011 elections in Guyana has declared her intentions that should be entrusted with the responsibility of leading her party to the polls that added his party’s voice for the immediate ending of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. She pointed out that in a civilized and mature society ending stigma and discrimination are the primary pillars in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. This, Dr. Harding stressed that she remains confident that the fight against HIV/AIDS can be won noting that there are some amount of successes achieved thus far globally in addressing the disease.

The PNC candidate who said that she will formally announce her presidential bid sometime in December zeroed in on what she said is the situation in Guyana. She noted that there is an urgent need for a genuine multi-sector approach to the fight against HIV. Dr Harding said that while she feels that there are some positive efforts being made and achieved by the Ministry of Health she firmly believes that more can and should be done as it relates to HIV/AIDS. “In must admit that I think that the Ministry of Health is attempting to make some efforts however frankly there is still a whole lot mote that is critically needed,” Dr Harding said.

Dr. Harding who herself has been over the years doing a number of voluntary work with children and women and also in the area of HIV/AIDS pointed out that its pivotal for the Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy and his ministry to remain in the lead role in confronting HIV. “I must stressed that Guyanese throughout this country must be able to feel a sense of pride and faith that as a country that we can succeed in effectively and efficiently addressing this epidemic which has the ability to threaten our own existence,” she said.

The Guyanese presidential hopeful also issued a passionate appeal to other stakeholders to play a meaningful role as well. The former PNC Government Minister noted that while Government should be the front leader’s stakeholders also has a responsibility in ensuring that collaboration and cooperation is achieved so as to win the battle. “Today I join with my team in calling on all stakeholders to recognize that they too have an important role to play in this fight as well thus civic society should also see themselves as a major player,” Dr Harding said.

Dr Harding reiterated that her group joins with others in noting the importance of confidentiality when addressing this issue stressing that he would like to see a high level of mature political leadership in the fight against HIV. She said that petty political differences should be set aside so as to properly deal with the concerns and issues affecting the people of the beautiful country of Guyana.

The ex-Minister, who’s known for her aggressive and continuous community service, stressed for the PPP/C administration to demonstrate more commitment and willingness thus investing in putting together carefully thought out programmes so as to properly prevent and control HIV. “I would like the current administration to take note of the effects of HUIV/AIDS in Guyana and what it continues to do to our population primarily among women and children. I therefore call on the Honorable Minister of Health Dr Ramsammy and his Ministry to join with us in being an effective advocate for the elimination of stigma and discrimination of persons living with the disease,” she said.

Dr Harding also called on her colleagues who she said would like her be contesting for the presidential bid and the National AIDS Secretariat to join hands in helping to forge stronger relationships with members of civil and private sector society. “I appeal to my colleagues to not lose sight of the urgency and importance in ending stigma and discrimination while I commend the National AIDS secretariat on the work that they are doing to be cognizant that more needs and should be done.” Dr Harding noted that the private sector and civil society including the faith-based organizations needs to be commented and applauded for what they have and continues to do dubbing their efforts as being ‘very impressive leadership.

She also pointed out that her group while seeking to garner the presidential bid strongly believes that to enhance any level of partnership that in playing a key role in preventing and controlling HIV/ AIDS it must be taken to a new level. This, Dr Harding said will see her team working closely in ensuring that they can continue working in garnering social support to families affected by HIV thus helping to ease some of the difficulties and challenges faced.

While I can admit that I wholeheartedly seek the presidential bid for the PNC I remain passionate and committed as a politician to lead from the front and therefore urge the others to do likewise as we have a social and moral responsibility to reduce stigma and discrimination. We must also strive to provide tangible assistance in whatever way that we can,” she declared.

Dr Harding added Grant added that there is much to reflect on this year’s theme which is ‘Universal Access & Human Rights’ stressing that there is much for the people of Guyana to assessed and certainly be proud of. She expressed confidence that the public is interested in making a new start in championing the cause of people living with HIVAIDS. “As I seek to garner the presidential nomination of my dear party I am confident and assured that once elected to office that there is a lot that will be done for those infected and affected by the disease. As such, I take this opportunity to commend those working in whatever capacity in helping to reduce stigma and discrimination as I firmly believe that there is much more that can be done especially from the Government level”.

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