The National, Friday 18th November 2011
By SALLY POKITON
UPNG journalism student
The country’s 40,000 teachers are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, the Papua New Guinea Teachers Association said yesterday.
It said a greater number of teachers were in danger from HIV/AIDS if nothing was done.
Association HIV/AIDS project coordinator Doris Omaken said a situational analysis survey carried out from August to September in 11 provinces showed that 80% of teachers interviewed had never visited HIV voluntary counselling and testing centres and 50% of teachers were not aware of the Department of Education’s HIV/AIDS policy.
She said the survey showed that in Milne Bay, 92 of the 103 teachers interviewed did not know about the national education policy on HIV, 82 had never gone for VCT, while 58 did not know about the HIV/AIDS Management and Prevention Act.
Omaken said another research conducted in 2008 by the association, Council of Pacific Education (COPE) and Educational International (EI) showed a high number of teachers in the country had died from AIDS.
Giving an example, Omaken said in 2008 in Central, 12 teachers had died from HIV/AIDS in one diocese.
To overcome that, the association has come up with a self-help project to help in the Department of Education’s HIV/AIDS policy aimed at educating teachers in the fight against the disease.
With the slogan “save the teachers, save the nation,” the project aims to educate the 40,000 teachers across the country about the department’s HIV/AIDS policy’s key strategic area for a safe workplace.
Omaken said most teachers had not been trained about the basics of first aid and most schools visited did not have kits or proper gloves to attend to injuries to students.
“Teachers are very resourceful people and we can use them to help in the reduction of HIV,” Omaken said.
She said teachers were influential people in rural communication and they were in strategic locations to educate the people.
Association general secretary Ugwalubu Mowana said this project would be the biggest HIV/AIDS intervention by the National AIDS Council to work through the existing network of teachers.