Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC) and Mildmay Mission Hospital London are linking to strengthen HIV and AIDS Health Professionals’ Education in areas of high HIV prevalence in Tanzania by introducing the ‘Diploma in Community Health Sciences and HIV and AIDS Care.’
According to a UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic, at the end of 2009, Tanzania had 1,400,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. There were 86,000 AIDS deaths resulting in 1,100,000 orphans due to AIDS.
The scale of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania remains acute. It continues to impact the health, social stability and poverty alleviation strategies for the country. The global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has had some significant positive results in recent years. However despite recent improvements, Tanzania continues to experience high levels of HIV prevalence.
The link contributes to alleviating some development issues such as poverty, it is a work based programme with participants from local communities implementing and disseminating their learning in their day to day work with local people, mostly in rural areas.
Recognising the many challenges that HIV/AIDS poses to Tanzania’s health, social stability and poverty improvement strategies, KCMC and Mildmay developed the Diploma to help eliminate one of the biggest issues - the lack of knowledge and experience that individuals and communities have in successfully intervening and addressing the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. By encouraging teamwork and exploring people’s perceptions of people living with HIV/AIDS to address these challenges holistically, the Diploma has strengthened the strategic services, resulting in an improved quality of life for those affected.
For Lucas Mwangata, Prison Officer at Karanga Prison, it had immediate effects for the people he worked with: “The course enabled me to extend the knowledge to inmates and prison officers in which is a new practice in our prison. The practise helped in reducing stigmatization and discrimination for people living with HIV in prison both inmates and prison officers."
“Thank you for including me in a course that has changed my attitude towards handling people living with HIV.” These are the words of Catherine Puka, a registered nurse at Mawenzi Hospital, Moshi and one of the 43 Tanzanian health and social professionals that have been taking part in a pioneering course to aid the understanding and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS.
To date three comprehensive HIV and AIDS palliative care services have been established. Alongside registered nurses, laboratory technicians, teachers, prison officers, reverends, pharmacists, and social workers, the Diploma has enabled professionals such as Lucas and Catherine to understand the importance of palliative care for people living with HIV. It is estimated that 90 professionals by the end of this link will have attended this course.
Encouraged by this success, Link Coordinator Ms. Marycelina Msuya has recommended that the course be cascaded to other Health training institutions in Tanzania and that other countries should also integrate this approach in their curriculum. For Marycelina, its success is also evidence of the benefits that Health Links bring to those partners involved, introducing new perspectives to both institutions and generating sustainable changes in handling people living with HIV.
IHLFS Team, British Council Tanzania