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Baba II

Konene Village

Launching of the anti-HIV/AIDS project and mass voluntary counseling and testing (MVCT)

26-28th June 2006

The journey started off on the 26th at 7:30 am,and due to the very rough road the technical team got to Konene after about 5 hours. The technical team was made up of: 1 Dr. ACHU P.N. CEO of COPAAP 2 Ms. Elspeth NESBIT VSO, project officer. 3 Mrs. NAHULUBA Joyce VSO. 4 Mrs. Gladys NJITI, assistant project officer. 5 Mrs. NJINDA Annette, Head of the Mezam Polyclinic Lab. 6 Mr. Sylvanus Dohnjenka, laboratory technician of Mezam Polyclinic. 7 Ms. QUINTA Lum, Community Health Worker with St. Martin De Porres Njinikom Catholic Hospital.(Project Hope).

Konene musician
Konene musician
Men listening to speeches
Men listening to speeches
villagers at project launch
Konene villagers at project launch

Road to Konene village
The road to Konene
Blood tests done in the field due to the remote location
Blood tests being done in the field due to the remote location
After checking into an inn reserved by the BUM president, horsemen and dance groups led the mobile team to the Sariki’s ceremonial ground. The (Sarki) chief of the Hausas and other people had assembled to welcome us. The chief expressed his gratitude for the pains taken by Dr. ACHU and his team to come a long way to help his people and wished him and his team a very happy stay. Dr. ACHU thanked the chief and the people for the warm welcome. He then announced to the people that that screening was going to begin immediately for those who were ready and to continue the next day, during the official launching of the project.

Registration and collection of blood was going on while the lab technicians did the testing. By the end of the first day, 135 people had been tested. Dr. ACHU and the lab technicians continued the analyses during the night, using light from a generator. A full blood count and differential and total lymphocyte count calculated for all possitive cases. By 7am the following day, people were already gathered at the inn to continue the screening. By the time we left to the grand stand for the official launching, more than 100 samples had been collected. At about 11am, a colorful crowd of horsemen and trumpet praise singers animated the official opening of the project after having led the technical team to the ceremonial grounds..

Prayers were said and Mr. Mbaswa Evaristus Joko, and executive member of the CUDA, introduced the Mobile team and the local authorities to each other. Mr. Joko explained that BDU spearheaded the anti-HIV/AIDS project first by writing out the proposal after a 3-day training of its leaders by COPAAP. BDU also selected ten community health volunteers (CHVs) that were also trained by COPAAP. The volunteers were to receive their certificates after taking their oath in front of the public. Mr. Joko apologized for the absence of the president of the BDU. He also thanked SAIKI Bala, ex-mayor for Bum for his dynamism in assisting the CHVs to mobilize the people of this community who were present. He wished that during the next training of volunteers SAIKI should be considered a potential candidate.

Horse display
Konene traditional horse display
COPAAP staff with horses
COPAAP staff with horses

Mr. BINI John, president of the CHVs, thanked Dr. ACHU for the initiative he has taken to come to their village to help fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He told Dr. ACHU that there is already a site allocated for the construction of the VACC. He pleaded if Dr. ACHU could also help them by bringing a road to their village which is so inaccessible.

Dr. ACHU thanked all Bum people for the sacrifices they had made to be present at the Launching of the project and to participate in the Mass Voluntary Counselling and Testing which was going to mark the beginning of fighting HIV/AIDS in the Bum Sub Division. He especially thanked the Sariki of Konene for the warm reception given him and his entourage. Dr. ACHU thanked Mr. Joko for being instrumental to have this project realizable. He said at the clinic he had witnessed many people dying mostly from HIV/AIDS and had decided to work with Cultural and Development Associations (CUDAS) at the grassroots so that people would be diagnosed early and properly cared for to reduce the death rate. Dr. ACHU stated that although the road is a problem, HIV/AIDS remained a bigger problem because a road without people will not be useful. He assured the people that coming to know their status early implies that they would live to die from old age or illness rather than HIV/AIDS. He told the people that CARE Cameroon had sponsored the screening of 200 people only, so any excess number screened shall be the joint responsibility of COPAAP and the community (BDU). Dr. ACHU encouraged the youth especially those from 15 years of age to do their tests. Youths below 15 who are sexually active should also come and know their status.

The furniture for the (VACC) Village AIDS Control Centre was unveiled and handed over to the population through the BDU President and traditional authorities. This  will be used as soon as a secure place is provided where the trained volunteers can work to continue counseling, testing and giving of prescribed drugs. He explained why the volunteers have to take an oath in front of the entire population and receive their certificates from the hands of the traditional rulers. It is a sign of their commitment to the whole community and the community should have confidence in them, share their secrets with the volunteers, and feel free to seek help pertaining to their HIV/AIDS problems. Dr. ACHU explained why the community has to have a solidarity fund and why it was important that everybody should contribute into it. He promised the continuous support of CARE if the community showed support for their volunteers, commitment by contributions to the solidarity Fund, and carrying out the identification of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). The community should be able to show what they have been doing for their OVCs and what help they might still need. In conclusion Dr. ACHU told the people of Konene that they should be willing to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS so that someday this pandemic shall become history.

There was a pause for questions and answers. Due to time constraint, only five questions were allowed. They were as follows:
1. If alcohol is used in shaving studios can it kill HIV/AIDS? Dr. ACHU said yes, if left on the shaver long enough. He advised that those who must go to be shaved at a barbing studio must insist that the shaver be sterilized before and after, and should give some time in between shaving customers. Mr. Joko said they may not need to abandon their culture of using blades to shave after they have lost a relative or as a sign of cleansing by the Moslems but that they must observe the rules of hygiene, i.e. each person should have his/her own blade. This should also apply when they go to tradi-practitioners for scarifications. People should educate the tradi-practitioners on the dangers of using his/her naked hands to apply medication from one person to another. He/she should partition each patient’s drug and use a straw for each application. 

2. Can somebody who is very ill be treated again with the ARVS? “A stitch in time saves nine”. Early intervention is better because the patient is able to eat well and take his drugs. If the patient is too ill he/she shall not be able to take drugs nor eat well so as to help the drugs to work. People who are very ill will however still be treated, including with ARVs. 

3. Can a mosquito bite spread the HIV/AIDS virus? No because studies have shown that when a mosquito bites it sucks blood.. The blood it sucks remains in its guts and is not ejected as it bites another person. The mosquito bites only when it is hungry and will not bite another person after it has fed. 

4. When ARVS are sold who collects the money? Dr. ACHU explained that the government subsidizes ARVS and that they are sold only at prices approved by Government and only in centres approved by Goverment. Any treatment center that sells the drugs at prices other than the price given by the government risks being closed up. 

5. Can one share a bed with a friend who has HIV/AIDS? Yes, but you should respect the rules of hygiene. A friend who has HIV/AIDS should not be discriminated upon.

After the session of questions and answers, the CHVS came forward to take their oath in front of everyone and their certificates were awarded by the traditional Rulers present. This exercise drew a lot of applause as a sign of encouragement and satisfaction from the crowd.

The next speaker Mr. WANJI David, representative of the DMO and chief of the Health Center, thanked the team for coming to help the people of this community. He pleaded that the quarter-heads should work with the CHVs so as to eradicate this pandemic in their community. He also asked the leaders to all work together to build the Health Center so that the government can support them by providing essential drugs and other equipment and personnel.

The communal correspondent and representative of PTG, Mr. NJONG George thanked the COPAAP team especially for coming and welcomed everyone. He frowned on some members of the community who discourage others by giving them false information that HIV/AIDS does not exist. He prayed that if such people are caught, they should be punished. Mr. NJONG encouraged the CHVs to be examples in their community and also asked the Almighty God to grant traveling mercies to the mobile team. A horse display and some traditional dances set the pace for the Launching of the Solidarity Fund. Contributions continued alongside the collection of blood for testing. The testing exercise ended at 12.00H the third day, with the following results recorded:

Number Registered 350
Number Tested 309
Number who tested positive 44 (women 29 men 15)
Number of confirmed tests done 44
Number tested by wbc differential/Fbc 44
Number fit for treatment 15