The National, Monday 3rd June 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
THE Epeanda aid post in the Southern Highlands last Saturday welcomed Pacific health workers for the first HIV/AIDS education programme to strengthen a Pacific response to the pandemic.
Seven health care workers from Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu arrived in Mendi to begin a 10-day training programme on HIV/AIDS aiming to upgrade their skills and knowledge on testing, treatment and care.
The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) and the Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine (OSSHHM) have received funding from AusAID Regional HIV/AIDS capacity building programme.
This is to develop an innovative training package comprising a clinical workshop in Papua New Guinea, an adult education workshop in Fiji and mentoring/clinical follow-up in the country.
The 10-day HIV clinical training programme is hosted by the Catholic Health Services in Mendi.
The Pacific participants will learn from their colleagues, observing a high HIV case-load setting at the Catholic diocese of Mendi, where more than 850 HIV positive patients receive treatment and care through the Epeanda aid post and HIV clinic.
The Health Department and the PNG Sexual Health Society are also collaborating with programme partners.
OSSHHM chief executive officer Jason Mitchell said the new programme was aimed at building capacity among healthcare workers in the Pacific.
“Currently, there are few patients living with HIV in the Pacific region, however, about one in four young people have a sexually transmissible infection (STI), increasing the risk of HIV transmission,” he said.
He said the new programme focused on building clinical HIV knowledge as well as leadership and training skills.
“Participants can return to their own country and provide training for others, from introductory levels to comprehensive STI and HIV case management,” he said.
In the opening remarks, Imbonggu MP and Works and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa commended the Catholic church and its commitment to better health and education services within the province and the nation.
Awesa also presented K100,000 for the development of the Radio Maria Programme for the diocese.