Tue | Jan 18, 2022

Social protection key in reducing HIV risk

Published:Wednesday | December 1, 2021 | 11:49 AM
Corporate Secretary at the Board of Supervision, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Treka Lewis - Contributed photo.

The social protection provided by the Government is key in reducing the disadvantages and inequalities that make people vulnerable to HIV infection, while mitigating the impact of HIV on households and helping those with the virus to overcome barriers in accessing treatment.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Corporate Secretary at the Board of Supervision in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Treka Lewis, noted that it takes more than the health component to address the issues that Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) face.

“It needs social coordination, which is where the Social Protection Strategy of Jamaica… helps to cushion and to assist the programme within the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) in targeting and assisting persons living with HIV,” she noted.

“Social protection plays a critical role in moving forward, the work of the MOHW for PLHIV and also provides… lays out the foundation for services to which all of us should be able to access in the event that we need it,” she added.

Social protection in Jamaica refers to the provisions that employ public and private initiatives, guided by State policies, to prevent, address and reduce the risk of poverty and vulnerability brought about by losses or interruptions to income.

The objective, Lewis said, “is to ensure a living standard above specified levels, through effective social, economic and labour market policies that support income security across the lifespan”.

Lewis said that critical to the extension of social protection coverage is the concept of a social protection floor, which is an approach that recognises the provision of certain minimum levels of benefits and services, specifically to support vulnerable groups within the society.

Among the vulnerable groups, she pointed out, are young mothers living with HIV, and those facing the most barriers to accessing HIV and social protection programmes.

Lewis said that Jamaica's Social Protection Strategy was developed in response to the country's commitment to ensure the security of all its residents and citizens.

She noted that Vision 2030 Jamaica envisages a strong framework for social protection in keeping with the goal of empowering all Jamaicans to achieve their fullest potential.

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