Sporting a wide array of colors, hundreds turned out with their placards and banners during the annual State Insurance sponsored World AIDS Day march through the streets of St Johns on Thursday (November 30th).
With music blaring and drums pounding, school children, health enthusiasts, soldiers, police officers, well-wishers and supporters made the trek from the Old Parliament Building through the streets of St John’s, declaring their stance against HIV and AIDS and voicing the message of prevention and care.
The business hub of the city was the center of attention as the large vocal crowd with placards and banners depicting various AIDS messages made their way down Redcliffe Street, up Market and Long Streets, across Independence drive before finishing inside the YMCA Sports Complex.
While there, the gathering heard Deputy AIDS Program Manager-Sonia Cochrane Joseph and Dornalie Beazer, a representative from State Insurance Corporation.
Cochrane-Joseph disclosed that of all the diseases and calamities that the twin-island state has faced in the past and will continue to face, HIV is the chief culprit among them.
“The Ministry of Health and the Environment is determined to ensure that the healthcare environment is conducive to promoting the health of the population. HIV is one of those diseases that the Ministry of Health and the Environment has placed high on the agenda and actually it has been on the agenda since the first case was diagnosed in 1985,” she said.
The health official added that the AIDS Secretariat is determined to deliver top class care to its patients and to uplift and uphold all the values and rights that are entitled to all human beings.
“We in the Ministry pledge to ensure a healthcare delivery system in which all human rights principles are observed. These include universal access, availability, acceptability and dignity, quality of healthcare, non-discrimination, transparency, participation and accountability,” she promised.
Beazer gave assurances of the Insurance Provider’s continued support after ten years at the helm of the annual activities and expressed her company’s anticipation of an even bigger turn-out in 2018.
The exercise attracted national celebrities in the likes of radio and television personality-Steve “Ibis” Freeland and soca artist-Claudette “CP” Peters, and schools such as the Greenbay Primary, Foundation Mixed, TN Kirnon Primary, Glanvilles Secondary, Princess Margaret and the Sir Novelle Richards Academy.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “The Right to Health.”