The risks of HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) spreading rapidly during the National General Election period is imminent, according to the Department of Health.
Health Department STI/HIV/AIDS Program Technical Advisor, Alice Marai led a technical team from Port Moresby including officers Mary Daniel and Isaac Nare to facilitate at a nine-days training workshop on ‘Provider Initiated Counsel & Testing’ for the health workers in Eastern Highlands Province.
She emphasised control on big groups of people moving around and camping out at make shift campaign houses.
“They are havens that pose high risk of transmission of the HIV/Aids and STIs, because many will be failing to apply protective measures when engaged in sexual activities at this peak period of the National Election,” Marai said.
She said this also poses risk of unplanned pregnancies of teenage girls and women not only in the Eastern Highlands Province, but around the country as well.
“Observing the election period and the risks that come with it, the NDoH is not directing its focus on the activities of the election, but to train the health workers so that they can be equipped with the skills of attending to, counselling and testing people that may contract and carry the HIV virus and other STI’s”, Marai said.
She said the workshop is divided into two components. The first component with six parts for counselling, while the other with three parts for training will be based on the laboratory testing which will be carried out on site for the patients at the point of service. When testing is done, patients can expect to get their results within thirty minutes.
“Our focus now is to provide the required upskill training to the participants who are Nursing Officers, Health Extension Officers and Community Health Workers so that when they go out to their respective areas to provide the counselling and testing, they can be able to deliver the services skilfully,” Marai said.
The workshop, started on Monday at the Diwai Hut in Goroka and ends next week, with 20 participants hoping to pass out with certificates after the training.