All set for Phillip Vanderhyden walk-a-ton

For the second time around USAID and PEPFAR will be teaming up with Lifeline Counselling as they prepare to host the 10th annual Phillip Vanderhyden walk-a-ton which is billed for tomorrow.

Members of the media were recently brought up-to-date with plans for the 10th Phillip Vanderhyden anniversary walk-a-ton.

United States Ambassador to Guyana David Robinson in his remarks at the briefing said that the US government under USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) fully endorses the initiative.

And he noted that PEPFAR over the years has benefited from scores of HIV/AIDS awareness programmes locally. As such the US ambassador congratulated Guyana for its efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

With Guyana being one of only two countries under the PEPFAR plan in the region, the country has indeed made the US government proud of its investment locally, Ambassador Robinson said.

“Only earlier this year an audit was done on all non-governmental HIV/AIDS PEPFAR-funded organizations and all monies were accounted for without irregularities and I am pleased to say we are happy for that,” the US ambassador stated.

The ambassador also announced several plans that PEPFAR will be looking to execute in the near future to help in the reduction of HIV/AIDS.

According to Robinson the US government is looking at setting up the first ever reference laboratory in Guyana, and this will also be the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The ambassador also announced that by year-end the construction of a cold storage facility for drugs not only for HIV/AIDS will begin at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

The ambassador also mentioned that while Guyana has been benefiting from the PEPFAR initiative, likewise PEPFAR has been benefiting also.

Also on board for this year’s walk-a-thon event will be several members from the private sector. According to chairperson of the Private Sector Advisory Board, Amanda St. Aubyn, as in previous years the private sector body stands ready to give assistance.

St Aubyn said they have recognized the importance of the walk-a-ton over the years in building the awareness of HIV/AIDS. This fits in, she added, with the specific focus to encourage the reduction of stigma and discrimination and ultimately behaviour change which will impact positively by reducing HIV in Guyana.

She said that this year’s 10th anniversary walk is expected to be a huge success not only through financial support but also participation.

Tomorrow’s walk-a-ton will begin from the Bank of Guyana building at 6:30 am and move south into Avenue of the Republic, east into Regent Street, south into Orange Walk, continuing into Lime Street, east into D’Urban Street, and north into Mandela Avenue, ending at the National Park.

Phillip Vanderhyden died in January 1998 after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The last walk-a-ton Vanderhyden participated in was held in October 1997, some three months before he died.

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