25 August 2010, Belize City – The Productive Organization for Women in Action (POWA), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Belize and the Belize Family Life Association (BFLA), conducted a 4-day home-based care basic training for community-level health care workers caring for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the Stann Creek District. The training workshop was held June 10-12 and 14, 2010 at the HelpAge Center, Dangriga Town.
The objective of the workshop was to provide training in home-based care and mental health support for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, thereby increasing the capacity and number of community-level health care workers.
In her opening remarks, Dr Abigail McKay, PAHO/WHO Belize HIV Consultant, spoke of the important role women play in the care economy, and how their role as care givers increases with the burden of HIV and AIDS. Even in cases where women themselves are HIV-positive, they often have the double or triple burden of caring for their partners, children, parents, and/or siblings. Ms. Ivorine Bulwer, BFLA Clinical Director, spoke of individual health care providers’ quests to better understand the effects of stigma and discrimination towards people with HIV.
Ms. Myrna Manzanares, Lead Facilitator, focused on the mental health capacity and support needs of the community-based health care workers. Other facilitators included Nurse Rachel Moriera, Ministry of Health Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center; Ms. Michele Irving, Women’s Development Officer; and Nurse Leah Jex, Hand in Hand Ministries.
The positive feedback from the 19 participants demonstrated that they gained knowledge, which they plan to share with their community. They are presently identifying and targeting families to whom they will offer assistance.
Participants were provided with an environmental care kit containing first aid materials to assist them in their community service.
POWA, a community-based organization that has been working in the Stann Creek District since 2003, remains committed to providing follow-up training, organizing outreach activities to support families, and enhancing community educators’ knowledge of other public health issues such as tuberculosis and malaria. POWA has a membership of 35 women who are all community volunteers and whose areas of focus are gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS.
The Pan American Health Organization, which is the Regional Office in the Americas of the World Health Organization, was founded in 1902, and works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. The PAHO/WHO Country Office in Belize was established in the 1950s.