SPANISH COMMUNITY SUPPORTS HEALTH AWARENESS TESTING

anguillian
By anguillian March 28, 2014 09:01

 

 

Members of the four Health Organisations

Members of the four Health Organisations

A significant number of members from the Spanish community have taken advantage of several free health awareness tests provided by four close-working organisations in Anguilla. The event was a health fair at the Spanish Church in The Quarter on Saturday, March 22. The collaborating groups were the Anguilla Community Network (ACAN) whose initiative, Project Hope, is sponsored by the Governor’s Office; the Health Promotion Unit; the National AIDS Programme; and the Saint James Medical School.

Display of Health Information

Display of Health Information

Israel Benjamin, a Spanish Pastor serving with World Harvest Assembly and a Red Cross trainer, was of much assistance in arranging for the Spanish community, and other persons, to participate in the health fair and to be tested. The tests included blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol screening and on-the-spot HIV testing.

Conducting of Health Tests

Conducting of Health Tests

Display of Health Information

Display of Health Information

“We are here supporting the health agencies. It is a great opportunity for us to interact with the community in Anguilla and we thank everybody concerned,” Benjamin said. “We are thankful to Governor Christina Scott for sponsoring Project Hope, Mr John Lake, CEO of Anguilla Community Network, Saint James Medical School and the National AIDS Programme. We are glad to have had the opportunity to use this Spanish Church, right at the centre of The Valley. We are happy how the community has responded and that the people have opened up to the tests. The numbers coming forward looked very well and created a nice feeling.”
John Lake was grateful that the other organisations had collaborated with ACAN to hold the event. He said the occasion was so far the climax of ACAN’s work towards the elimination of stigma and discrimination involving persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. “I really thank the Governor’s Office for sponsoring Project Hope. It has helped to open the eyes of many persons in the community and the pastors’ symposium was a remarkable event in the way forward. We are having an evaluation of Project Hope on March 27. The Governor’s Office gave us US$8,000. We were also able to bring together the Fire and Rescue Department, the Gender Affair Unity, Churches and now the Spanish community in our efforts.” He added that the project would hopefully be continued later and that attempts were being made for additional funding to finance some of the more sustainable areas of work.

Ms Julie Anderson, a third semester student at Saint James Medical School, said: “I think it is an honour to help with this health fair. Dr Davidson, who is the Dean of Students, coordinated with the Governor’s Office for students to participate in the event. There are different clubs at the school, including Red Cross and the American Medical Student Association, which coordinate health fairs like this and conduct one every month at different venues.”
Senior Health Educator, Mrs Jennifer Gumbs, said the Health Promotion Unit was at the fair to offer counselling to persons suffering from diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, prostate and other cancer illnesses, etc. She was pleased with the interest shown by various persons who had also taken advantage of the printed information made available to them.
Mrs Marza Demis-Adams, Director of the National AIDS Programme, stressed that the focus of the health fair was on total wellness. “I am doing the HIV screening, testing and counselling,” she said. “Overall, since we started doing rapid HIV testing in the community, I can say we have had a good response. Of course, this is something new for people. They are accustomed going to the hospital for HIV testing. When we do the testing in the community it is done on the spot and you get your results on the spot – twenty minutes later but, of course, people have to be comfortable.”
She said that last year 250 HIV screenings were done in the community, compared with an average of 900 a year at the hospital laboratory. “For us to be doing rapid testing in the community, I find it quite good to be able to do about 300,” she further said. “That’s more than 25% of what is being done at the lab. It is another service to the people of Anguilla to encourage them to be tested. That is the message: know your status.”

Mrs Demis-Adams added that the majority of the funding for the National AIDS Programme was obtained from the European Union and managed by PAHO’s HIV/STI Unit in Trinidad. “It is a five-year project and it ends in August this year,” she disclosed. “It means that a considerable amount of our funding is no longer going to be available. I think that the management office is looking for other ways to extend the project. Over the next three or four months I will be tied up completing a number of administrative and policy-based activities that still need to be completed, and in June an evaluator from the EU will be coming to Anguilla to do a national assessment of the project.”

anguillian
By anguillian March 28, 2014 09:01

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