Foundation increases counselling, testing clinics from five to 20

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 5th September, 2012

THE Oil Search Health Foundation’s fight against HIV/AIDS in rural areas of Papua New Guinea has grown over the years from five voluntary counselling and testing clinics to more than 20 this year, a company representative says.
HIV programme field supervisor Jenny Alpa told medical professionals at the 48th Medical Symposium yesterday that with the support of the Asian Development Bank, Southern Highlands provincial government, Health Department and churches they were able to deliver services from 2007 to 2011.
Alpa said their clinics were located from Hides in Hela to as far as Kikori, in Gulf.
She said over the four-year range of the HIV project they had established 25 clinics, trained more than 90 staff, refurbished 13 clinics and received accreditation from the Health Department for 18 of their clinics for HIV testing and counselling.
She said so far 13,573 people had been tested in the 25 clinics, 64% of whom were females and 143 were confirmed positive cases.
She said the highest age group tested positive were those from 25 to 34 years.
She said the foundation was working with the government and not duplicating its services.
Alpa said sustainability of staff at the clinics was a challenge as most were volunteers who sometimes stopped working because of the remoteness of the rural clinics.
She said security, poor infrastructure like roads, late procurement of drugs and gender-based violence were some challenges the clinics had to deal with.
She said positive things achieved by the foundation in its HIV programme included network development with partners, project expansion and HIV negative babies born to positive mothers.
She said there were opportunities to reach out more to people.
Alpa said in order to do so there must be clear agreements in place with partners, planning for sustainability of project after external funding stopped and continuous training for staff.