Over the past couple of days, we have been brainstorming with Juan to plan our next project. As of right now, Salud Sin Limites has 2 major projects, one of which is the shelter and the prevention of domestic violence. The second area of focus is prevention of HIV through a partnership with the Ministry of Health. Salud Sin Limites aims educate the community on the disease and the partnership with the ministry of health allows testing and treatment. Salud Sin Limites is directly responsible for the education part, and every Saturday they have a radio program where teenagers talk about HIV. We actually got to be on the program today as special guests! MINSA is in charge of the testing and treatment. We wanted to see how we could get involved so after talking to Juan about the program Salud Sin Limites already had going, we set up a meeting with the Ministry of Health to see how we could help. Although HIV is present in the community and education about prevention is undoubtedly important, the scope of the problem is largely unknown because of the lack of resources for testing. Presently, there are only a few documented cases in Siuna of HIV but there’s a good chance that this is because not many people have been tested, therefore it’s possible that HIV is more of a problem here than the numbers indicate. So, after meeting with MINSA, (Ministry de salud) and talking with Juan, we have decided that through the already established partnership of Salud Sin Limites and MINSA, we will be funding the purchase of HIV tests for the community, as well as funding educational programs already in existence, such as the weekly radio program. One HIV test costs 1.45 cordobas, which is equivalent to 6 cents! Hopefully with these testing materials, the community of Siuna will be able to benefit both from increased awareness of the prevalence of HIV and earlier access to treatment for those who test positive.
Our meeting with MINSA indicated the need for HIV tests but they also provided us with a list of other health priorities for the community. Many items on the list addressed the problem of cervical cancer from a variety of different steps, from testing to treatment. We asked Juan if this was something he wants Salud Sin Limites to be involved in in the future and he said yes, we could partner with MINSA to create educational programs about cervical cancer and getting tested routinely, while also funding the tests and the equipment needed to treat cervical cancer. The education part will probably involve radio programs similar to the programs currently used for education on HIV. Since the purpose of GlobeMed and GROW is to design projects that best meet the needs of the community, we are all really excited about addressing this problem that clearly needs attention!
So, our goal for next year will now be working towards a variety of programs that fall under the common theme of “Improving Women’s Health”, by continuing our involvement of the domestic violence shelter, getting involved with the HIV program, and helping Salud Sin Limites to start a new program targeting the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer. We are working out more details with Juan tomorrow to establish a more concrete plan but that’s what we have so far. Pretty exciting that our partnership with Salud Sin Limites is expanding!