Delivered by Devanand Millie Milton, Latin America and the Caribbean NGO Delegate
Good afternoon, all.
My name is Devanand Millie Milton.
I was torn apart last Friday as I left my country to attend the PCB meeting. I have left behind one of my Trans sister who lies in the morgue, waiting for her family to claim her body for burial. She died of HIV related illnesses. In my country, HIV medicines are available, but after many years of hard work. Stigma and discrimination continue to be a barrier for us to access HIV care and treatment. As an HIV positive Trans woman, this can also be my reality and it scares me.
The barrier to healthcare for the transgender population manifests in various forms: systemic discrimination, health service provider biases, and lack of knowledge. Shockingly, members of the transgender community lack access to information on sexually transmitted infections and resort to self-injecting hormones instead of seeking proper medical services. The lack of access to knowledge and appropriate services amongst the transgender population, despite being highly vulnerable to STIs, inevitably puts our health at risk.
At the micro-level, many healthcare providers do not exercise empathy and understanding in dealing with transgender patients. Discussions around UHC in the policy and the data landscape must give special focus to marginalised communities like transgender people and give us the preventative and curative health services we need to live a healthy life.
The World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report on UHC published in 2017 does not include the term ‘transgender’. This speaks to the fact that marginalized groups are excluded in UHC discussions.
Does this mean that Key Populations especially transgender communities will be left behind?
I am hopeful that Universal Health Coverage will roll out to meet our Health Care needs and do not exclude us and any actions on UHC need to utilize a rights-based approached and be grounded in equity, determinants of health and sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly for key populations.
In the spirit of inclusivity, UHC should start with considering the needs of the transgender community. The fact that UHC implementers do not consider centering the needs of the trans community as feasible is part of the problem. UHC should strive to make healthcare a safe space where anyone can get access to dignified health services, which is a basic human right. I know from personal experience that just putting up a clinic will not result in stigma and discrimination-free healthcare.
I am calling on Member States not to leave us to the fringes of society.Thank you.
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting