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GDF ENHANCES HIV FIGHT

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The medical infrastructure within the Guyana Defence Force has received a boost with the completion of the Medical Corps annex which strengthens the Force’s capacity to provide clinical care to the HIV –positive and other military members.

The facility was officially handed over during a ceremony on November 20 at Base Camp     Ayanganna.

The addition was undertaken with support from the US. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which has always supported the Force’s efforts to develop structural capacity in its provision of medical care to its members and families.

The Annex houses a training facility to accommodate sessions for the medical personnel, peer educators, counselors and testers as well as an extension to the laboratory, office space and a storage area for medical supplies. Additionally, the Force is in the process of introducing an electronic health information system which will play an important role in the delivery of prevention, care and treatment programmes. This system is to meet requirements of the wider medical system and will also provide referral services to the national health system to complement the existing clinical services now present at the GDF Medical Corps.

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Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best in remarks pointed out that his recent achievement by the Force coming at the time of its 47thAnniversary emphasizes the significance of it identifying with the fight against HIV and ensuring that its ranks are properly educated about the disease.    “ The Guyana Defence Force will not allow HIV/AIDS to incapacitate our ranks ,as death from HIV/AIDS and any other causes result in the loss of personnel which affects military preparedness ,  efficiency and increase cost of recruitment and training of replacements ,” he said. He also acknowledged other inputs from PEPFAR through which many Guyanese are being reached and provided treatment which keeps them in good health.

Meanwhile, Coordinator of the Guyana Defence Force HIV/AIDS prevention programme Mrs. Beverly Gomes -Lovell in remarks noted that as part of PEPFAR /Guyana’s vision of strengthening public health systems, work will be continuing with GDF. “We will continue to provide assistance to the GDF medical facilities to develop structural capacity which will provide clinical care to its HIV positive and other military members,” she said.

She noted that the Force’s programme,  in line with PEPFAR, has transitioned form emergency response to promoting sustainability in the battle against the disease, has recognized the need for further development of the medical infrastructure to support the services offered.

She noted that there is no question that HIV is a complex pandemic which varies but that the Force is stepping   up in efforts to deal with the associated challenges .

US Embassy Charge D’ Affaires Thomas Pierce who was also present at the ceremony said the US was pleased to partner with the GDF , through PEPFAR, to address the most urgent needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS .” The creation of this Medical Annex offers the opportunity for a sustainable effort , and to reinforce bilateral partnership

 

with the GDF by building a greater military  to military   relationship ,” he said.

National Aids Programme Coordinator Dr. Shanti Singh was also on hand for the handing over ceremony and applauded the Force for its efforts .She congratulated the Force for having much foresight in its response .