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Work of Clinton Foundation in Bahamas complete

The last Clinton Foundation worker hops on a plane tomorrow, which will herald the end of the organization’s HIV/AIDS work on the ground in The Bahamas.

“They have effectively pulled out,”said National AIDS Programme Director Dr. Perry Gomez. ”Their last employee leaves Wednesday.”

According to Gomez, a senior foundation member revealed to government late last year that the Foundation, headed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, has completed its work in The Bahamas.

He added that the foundation staff’s primary work was to source medication and medical equipment for the government’s free HIV/AIDS clinic. He intimated that The Bahamas is now in a position to carry on those contracts for antiretroviral drugs and equipment that had been negotiated through the foundation during its tenure.

“A few months ago one of the senior people of the foundation met with the minister to say their work in The Bahamas is finished,”said Gomez.

“In terms of what they wanted to do for The Bahamas, their role in The Bahamas was mostly in negotiating for us-they negotiated the best prices for us for drugs and equipment for the lab, so that government money would go further.

“They will still, if we need assistance, help from a distance, they don’t have to be here for that, because basically our contracts are set.”

Since the The Bahamas secured markedly reduced prices for drugs, treatment became universal for those who needed it.

Since the very first cases, the death rate from HIV has been reduced by 70 percent, Gomez said recently.

The Bahamas went from 300 deaths from AIDS every year to around 70 for the last two years.

Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday that he is expected to meet with Gomez today over the future of The Bahamas’HIV/AIDS program following the departure of the Clinton Foundation’s workers.

Some of the foundation’s most recent work was with the Haitian community, Gomez also revealed.

“For the last nine months they were working with the Haitian community and did a wonderful job,”he said.

“Their work was targeted. They were helping us with forecasting of drugs, making sure orders are here and others were monitoring the pharmacy.”

According to Gomez, much of the foundation’s former, Bahamas-based staff will now focus their attention on Africa.

The Clinton Foundation, according to its website, was established in 2002 and developed the Clinton Health Access Initiative(CHAI), under which The Bahamas was a beneficiary, to”turn the tide”of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in developing countries.

The Caribbean still has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS outside Sub-Saharan Africa.

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