By Robin Flanagan, Manager, NASTAD Global Program
For two years, NASTAD has been working with Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health to help develop their HIV/AIDS surveillance system. While this partnership began with reinforcement for behavioral surveillance among populations at greatest risk for HIV, in the last six months, capacity building support has expanded to also focus on case-based surveillance. Consistent with current PEPFAR priorities, these activities seek to strengthen local public health capacity and encourage use of scientific data for monitoring, evaluation and decision-making.
Recently, a Trinidad and Tobago leading newspaper highlighted the need for universal HIV/AIDS case reporting. The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper quoted Minister Rodger Samuel, from the Office of the Prime Minister quoted, as saying “…because the data from private sector testing agencies is not brought to the Ministry of Health … there is no way we have a realistic idea of what is happening with HIV/AIDS in [Trinidad and Tobago].”
Minister Samuel made this statement while officially launching Trinidad and Tobago’s interim HIV/AIDS agency and illustrates the national campaign, led by the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister, to roll out a comprehensive case reporting and case surveillance system for HIV/AIDS nationwide. Minister Samuel’s speech took place on the eve of the surveillance system implementation that is being supported by NASTAD and underscores the importance of strong surveillance to the general public.
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The Ministry of Health plans to commence roll out of the new case surveillance system in the first quarter of 2013. Read the full article in The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper here.