PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 20 September, 2006 – “The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) will dedicate it’s involvement in World Cup Cricket 2007 to the issue of HIV/AIDS, with particular focus on children and the goal of protecting the right of all children to healthy recreation and protection against HIV and AIDS, and will work with UNICEF and UNAIDS to develop activities in connection with this event.” The announcement was made by President and CEO of WIPA, Mr. Dinanath Ramnarine at the official launch of a partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), aimed at promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS, and reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities, particularly children to HIV.
Recognizing the special role that sports has to play in promoting this awareness of HIV/AIDS particularly in the Caribbean region, UNICEF and UNAIDS together with WIPA have agreed to work together to advance joint efforts that will also promote child protection, healthy recreation and protection against HIV and AIDS, in furtherance of the principles contained in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the campaign, “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” which is a long term strategy aimed at reducing mother to child transmission, treatment and care of children with HIV/AIDS, reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst young people and the protection of the rights of orphans and other vulnerable children.
The partnership became official on Tuesday, September 19th, at the UN House in Port of Spain, Trinidad, when representatives from the WIPA, UNICEF and UNAIDS signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out their shared commitments to developing joint programming, through their respective mandates, to fulfill the role and achieve the goals of the partnership. Signing for and commenting on the role of WIPA, Ramnarine said that they have recognised that young people aged 15 – 25 are the most affected by HIV/AIDS in the region. He commented that, “we at WIPA are very concerned at the direction of some them (youth) are taking. They are crying out for help, for understanding of their condition and for remedies and solutions that are long term. WIPA recognises that heroes and role models can play an influential and decisive role in molding the lives of these persons and cricket, as the most popular game in the Caribbean, through our cricketers and members, can be used to reach out to them.”
“Our involvement will give the cricketers another golden opportunity to give back to the communities which has nurtured and supported them, during the Cricket World Cup and even beyond,” Ramnarine said.
Also signing the MOU was UNICEF’s Special Envoy to the Caribbean Karin Sham Poo, who commended WIPA’s work, noting that sports and recreation present fun and effective ways to learn values. “They promote friendship and fair play, teach teamwork, discipline and respect and even coping skills necessary for ensuring children and young people develop into caring individuals. This is why WIPA’s involvement at this time is so crucial as they embrace similar values,” said Sham Poo. Reiterating Ramnarine’s position, Sham Poo said that the upcoming World Cup Cricket in 2007 will play an important role in what is being done together as organizations, but as positive role models, the individual cricketers will also be very important throughout the Caribbean and in their own countries and communities.”
Speaking and signing on behalf of UNAIDS Dr. Karen Sealey, Director of the Caribbean Regional Support Team, recognized the integral and critical role of partnerships in achieving the goal of turning back the tide of this epidemic. “We need allies, strong, solid alliances with committed discipline and motivated advocates, if we are to respond effectively to the AIDS epidemic. This is why we have and are currently joining forces with our regional cricket bodies and associations to promote the issue of HIV."
In putting the current partnership into context Dr. Sealey explained that the collaboration began in 2003 when UNAIDS first joined forces with the International Cricket Council (ICC) in response to the AIDS epidemic. In keeping with one of the objectives of that alliance - to encourage regional and national cricket boards to support HIV/AIDS issues - the UNAIDS Caribbean Team, UNICEF and the West Indies Cricket Board signed an MOU in November of 2005 to use the sport of cricket as a vehicle to promote HIV awareness in the region.
“Building on that initiative, today we incorporate a key (missing) element into this partnership – the WIPA. And therefore this collaboration brings past, present and future Caribbean cricket players on board as advocates in the response to HIV,” Dr. Sealey concluded.
In order to achieve the goals of the collaboration, UNICEF, UNAIDS and WIPA plan to adopt a number of strategies, among which are to use the platform of the organisations’ respective future events, particularly those related to World Cup Cricket 2007, and other appropriate national and/or international events, to advance the common goals of the partnership and to encourage greater co-operation between the UNICEF Country Offices, UNAIDS Country Offices and WIPA, in order to develop national-level activities that promote the principles of the agreement beyond the activities related to ICC World Cup 2007.
The MoU was witnessed by United Nations Resident Coordinator, Trinidad and Tobago, Inyang Ebong-Harstrup and will be effective for three years beginning 19 September, 2006.
About the Organisations
UNAIDS coordinates the efforts of ten UN organizations in response to the global AIDS epidemic, engages diverse parties and stakeholders, including governments, civil society, national and international partners to participate in and lead the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is committed to strengthening support to nationally owned and led responses, and monitoring the implementation of globally agreed policies around HIV.
WIPA is the representative association of all current West Indies Cricketers as well as past ones who are its members, and aims at protecting the interests of players by providing service for holistic development of each individual player.
About UNICEF For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.