Training for improved care in HIV

1 November, 2010, Esther Nakkazi

The trainers themselves are trained continuously through the Regional Aids Training Network (RATN)

Father Alex Ojera from the Apostles of Jesus church Gulu in northern Uganda was one of the 24 students who graduated at the Mildmay International centre in Kampala last year.

He becomes an expert at health management and care for HIV/AIDS and its related diseases like Tuberculosis after graduating with a diploma in ‘A health Systems Approach to HIV/AIDS Care and Management’ run by Mildmay International and validated by the University of Manchester, UK.[frax09alpha]

The course is offered as a single entity for students from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The modules are offered alternately in Kenya and Uganda and students travel between the venues for their studies.
The course is part time, modular and work based. It uses adult’s approaches to teach and learn and the students are expected to translate theory into practice in other wards preparing students to be fit for practice in the field of HIV/AIDS care and management.

Father Ojera was one of the first catholic priests to publicly declare his HIV positive status. The professionals who graduate from Mildmay are supposed to make a difference in their communities.

“I gained knowledge in HIV counseling, management and care. HIV and AIDS are global and do not leave out the society of priests. They are both infected and affected,” said Ojera.

“There is HIV/Aids in the Catholic Church and people die silently. Even if they are celibate this is a human disease that does not leave the priests outside,” said Ojera.

“I live with them and support them properly. With the knowledge I acquired, I support them even better”.

Ojera is HIV positive and was diagnosed 6 years ago and decided to go public but says there is still a lot of stigma. HIV/AIDS is a major fear in the church especially the Catholic Church.

“I usually administer sacrament to people. I go privately and when I know that someone is sick I try to advise him or her to go for an HIV test. I tell them that even if they are HIV positive, it is a manageable disease,” said Ojera.

Dr. Zainabu Akol, the HIV programme manager HIV said Mildmay is one of the centers of excellence and makes a great contribution to health workers that offer improved care in HIV. And, courses have been developed and lessons learnt that is why they are centers of excellence.

“The trainings work for individuals, patients and the country. The modules are good, they impart writing skills, which is important for resource mobilization,” said Zainabu.

Training important resource for mobilization

Irene Kambonesa, the director of training and education, Mildmay Uganda said the courses impart ethics, attitudes and morals. HIV is an old, chronic epidemic but it also keeps changing so we need trainings all the time.

The courses make its graduates non- job seekers. Usually these are people who are on the job and learn about new interventions.

Ms. Kambonesa says the needs for training keep changing and the trainees need to learn new things because the HIV is not static.

Mildmay has been training 2,000 people annually some from Kenya, Tanzania. They have short courses, work based programmes, clinical and client workshops.

The trainers themselves are trained continuously through the Regional Aids Training Network (RATN), which develops capacity that also links institutions with technical capacity to deliver quality courses.

But training is one area, which has been missed out this time by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) that renewed funding for the next five years with a grant of $7.7 m annually.

CDC, which has renewed funding for the next 5 years and accounts for 83 percent of the programme costs at Mildmay Uganda, is not funding training in the new package offered.

Mildmay Uganda, a centre of excellence for training in HIV courses for the East African region, now charges for the training, which were offered for free in the last 10 years.

“This time CDC did not give us a grant to train but we shall continue training because we have staff and facilities,” said Dr. Kambonesa.

Now the centre will charge all their students and also rely on consultancy work, which they have been offering to HIV centers all over Africa.

For instance the centre has a unique diploma not offered anywhere in Africa- counseling for Antiretroviral therapy- which has been attracting students from all over Africa. Other courses are for doctors, clinical officers, nurses, community based volunteers.

Dr. Kambonesa said they are determined to continue with the training and so far, the results are positive. Twenty students have already registered for a course some self sponsored, others paid for by the companies.

Private sector-big companies

And, that is the way to go as the international donor agencies are shifting their emphasis away from HIV ending the ‘golden age’ of HIV/AIDS funding bonanza.

The centre is targeting the private sector-big companies that could join in the HIV cause through social responsibility programmes.

“We want to stimulate companies so that they contribute to the well being of the public. We are appealing to them to let them know the need,” said Fi McLachlan, the chief executive officer, Mildmay Charity offices.

The private sector can heed to the cause by providing volunteers, consultancy services, training and cash.

With more stimulation, they could donate to HIV service providers as part of their social responsibility. And, this is now the way forward- a step to ending the donor dependency in HIV funding.

Mildmay is run by global HIV charity Mildmay International and supported by the Ugandan Ministry of Health, opened in 1998. Situated on the hillside along the Kampala to Entebbe Road, it is a familiar sight to many Ugandans.

“There is HIV/Aids in the Catholic Church and people die silently. Even if they are celibate this is a human disease that does not leave the priests outside,” said Ojera.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 35 views

Join the next generation of science media. Write for the NSJ