Young Guyanese vibrant in HIV/AIDS fight
Kaieteur News
June 28, 2004

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YOUNG people in Guyana have been very vibrant in sensitizing and educating their peers on the issue of HIV/AIDS. That’s according to Health Coordinator Jennifer Miller.

Ms. Miller said that she is pleased with the active participation of the young people in the battle against the pandemic, and described their attitudes as admirable.

She noted that for the year, several health clubs have been formed in a number of schools throughout the country, which according to her is an indication that more young people are gaining information about the disease.

Last year the Health Ministry created a national framework for child and adolescent health.

Two national meetings were held at Madewini under the themes “Youth leadership in Health” and “National Network Meeting for School Health Clubs”.

Some 31 health club members and seven teacher advisors from eight health clubs across the country participated in the interactive sessions on various health-related issues, including adolescent sexuality and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, mental health, life skills, nutrition and first aid.

The Health Club activities at the various schools include on a consistent basis, first aid training, peer education, school cleanups, collaborative water and sanitation projects, advocacy for smoke-free school zones, sporting events, eye screening clinics, HIV/AIDS/STI information sharing sessions, poster contests among schools, visits to health facilities and inter-school health debates.

These activities are supported by many entities including the Ministries of Health, Culture, Youth and Sport, Education, and Human Services and Social Security.

International organisations such as Pathfinder International, US Government agencies including USAID, Peace Corps and Population Services International, and local organisations such as the Red Cross, Linden Care Foundation, the Volunteer Youth Corps as well as the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation are also active participants.

Ms. Miller disclosed that funding for the clubs is garnered from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme at approximately $US20,000. A youth friendly health services initiative has also began in Region Four, in collaboration with the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre.

More than 30 school health clubs were either launched or prepared for launching in seven administrative regions during the past year.