Progressio teaches people on AIDS risks [Archives:2007/1071/Local News]

July 23 2007

By: Moneer Al-Omari
SANA'A, July 24 ) Over the period July 22 to 26, Progressio in collaboration with International Development Foundation organizes a training course targeting 20 participants on HIV/AIDS. The Training targets barbers, taxi drivers, internet cafes, and Lokandas (motel) workers who will act later on as educators, facilitators, mentors for HIV/AIDS prevention.

Progressio, an international UK based NGO, aims to develop confident and competent educators with skills to deliver the peer education on HIV/AIDS in their communities. The organization has been working in Yemen over the last thirty years and has a wide expertise of the country, especially in health field.

According to Progressi's Yemen representative Abdullah Ahmed Al-Syari, the organization works in coordination with 19 NGOs as partners in their different activities carried in the country, noting that the programs are made in coordination with Health Ministry.

The current project of training peer educators in HIV/AIDS, financially supported by Ireland, aims to raise the awareness among citizens as for the risks of HIV/AIDS and the means by which such vulnerable diseases are transmitted. Through the participants, the organization aims to reach a wide-range of factions and occupations. The project also aims at building the institutional capacities of NGOs in a way to enable them take on future programs.

Al-Syari further hinted that his organization has been started thinking over its involvement in Yemen's sustainable developments, particularly water sector.

As for the cases of HIV/AIDS registered so far in Yemen, Al-Syari made it clear that the number recorded can not be a representative of the volume of the disease in Yemen, especially when statistics come from the Central Laboratory of Health Ministry. He maintained such statistics overlook those who do not visit the lab for testing and others who avoid making tests.

Participants assured that they benefited from the course. Also, they indicated that they knew many things they had not known before, asserting that they will try to convey such information to as many people as they can, in an effort to identify people with vulnerable diseases and prevent their stretch-out in the country.

Jamal Ja'afer, a hairdresser, pointed out that the participants received a lot of information about HIV disease and the ways by which they can prevent its spread, especially when they use skin-piercing tools, which may transform such disease.

His mate, Mohammed Al-Hakim, believes that the economic situation, in the country, would prevent a lot of people especially the poor from asking for new razors in stead of the second-hand ones as they will increase the barber's fee. Instead, they will just ask for shaving with just replacing the blade, something out of unawareness.

Mohammed Yusuf, internet cafe administrator, pointed out that he can help spread of HIV awareness among youth, who represent 99 percent of cafe's customers, hinting that he can draw the attention of youth to such a topic through chatting and other electronic means.

He further noted that he know many new things about AIDS and some of his misinformation was corrected especially as the transmittance of disease by lactating women to their babies as well as hot kisses which are likely to transmit diseases.

Lowkanda worker, Khalid Ghaleb Naji, stressed that this course will help him know many things about AIDS and he, in his turn, will convey this information to Lowkanda clients.

The same opinion is shared by club worker Abdullah Hamadi who assures he will convey all information to all club members, friends, and family members, noting that such open discussions of such touchy subjects would help diminish the risks and make citizens well-aware of these diseases.

Zone chief Ali Ahmed states that the information he receives will be disseminated among all those he knows. Also, he added that he will discuss such a disease each time he has a chance to do so, particularly during marriage celebrations and qat sessions.

International expert and HIV/AIDS coordinator Mohammed Irfan Akhtar noted that the project now targets three populated governorates including Sana'a, Taiz, Aden, and Hodeidah.

Furthermore, Akhtar pointed out that the project, lasting for three years -2007 to 2009, aims to create a long-term program that targets NGOs in these four governorates in order to help them adopt and conduct such programs in the future.

He hinted that his organization seeks the help of international skilled experts in order to provide NGOs with expertise and qualify them to conduct such projects and programs in the future.