TAKING responsibility and control of one’s life was the message that was emphasised during a forum held by the staff members of the University of Technology (Unitech) to mark World AIDS Day yesterday.
With the theme “Make care, counselling and treatment accessible to all people”, staff members took the afternoon off, to attend the forum organised by the HIV/AIDS working committee and held at the Rose Kekedo auditorium.
In his opening remarks, registrar Allan Sako said it was the responsibility of every individual to take charge of their own lives.
He added that everyone must re-examine themselves and their lives.
Mr Sako urged all staff to take care of themselves, as the university needed their skills and knowledge to work and achieve it’s goals and vision.
Staff described HIV/AIDS as a social disease, and not only as a health problem.
The main part of the forum was the presentation highlighting the HIV/AIDS related activities of the Unitech clinic.
The presentation was made by nursing officers sisters Dora Tulungenaram, Frederica Kepa and Imelda Hinei.
Sr Tulungenaram is in charge of the voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and explained signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS.
She said the most vulnerable were females between the ages of 15and 30 years, and men over the age of 40 years.
Sr Kepa gave the committee’s recommendations, highlighting six issues they wanted to be addressed by the administration, in order for them to improve and provide efficient services at the clinic.
This is because, the clinic is getting increasing number of patients, not only within the university community, but also from surrounding communities like Madang Block, Bumayong, Taraka and even residents within the city boundaries.
The recommendations were;
* A separate room should be provided for HIV/AIDS testing and counseling to ensure privacy, as currently the same room is being used for treating TB, STI and HIV/AIDS.
* Medical officers should receive more training; currently only Sr Tulungenaram has been trained to conduct VCT;
* In line with the above, it is also a national policy that all nurses be multi-skilled;
* HIV/AIDS committee must hold regular meetings to address the issue;
* All university stakeholders including, government, staff and students must take ownership to address the disease, as it affects everyone; and
* Include HIV/AIDS awareness in university curriculum and other annual programmes held by the institution.
Unitech launched a HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy last year and the committee members stated that they would be working on more HIV/AIDS related activities next year.
Elsewhere in Lae, there was a huge turnout at the Niall Reserve at Eriku with the Morobe Provincial Aids Committee secretariat hosting awareness talks, dramas and other activities to mark World AIDS day.