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Jan 31, 2006

Community nurse’s aides begin training

Story PictureIt may not be the most glamorous part of the medical profession, but while community nurse’s aides do not perform open heart surgery, they are often responsible for the health of entire villages. Today I learned more about these vital workers as they began a major training initiative.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
For more than a decade, these women have been the frontline of Belizean healthcare … dealing with medical maladies ranging from diarrhoea to AIDS.

The idea of a community health worker began as part of a regional project in the 1990s, but to date officials contend Belize is the only Caribbean country still developing the skills of the nurse?s aide.

Joan Burke, Director B.F.L.A.
?These are people who are dedicated. There were times when the CNAs would not have medication, they would literally take monies out of their pockets to make sure that when community members come to their homes that at least they have a pill to give to them.?

Burke contends CNAs have been instrumental in preventing outbreaks–such as a potential cholera epidemic in Toledo in 1990 and during times of natural disaster.

Joan Burke
?They went from community to community taking Clorox, chlorinating water, explaining to people, you don?t to go into the waters, we don?t know what is in the water. They are the ones who went from shelter to shelter, community to community dealing with fever cases, dealing with colds, dealing with coughs and all that. So there are many, many, many success stories that we can think about and share when it comes to the input of the community health workers to the whole development of the healthcare system in Belize.?

Today, community nurse?s aides working in the Belize district embarked on a ten month training programme under the theme: Empowering Communities and Creating Equal Health Opportunities. Topics on the table will include C.N.A. and the Community and Handling Medications Properly.

Joan Burke
?Some community nurses aides, they are the only health contact in their community, so this training will give them that level of confidence that they can go out and reach the people who they need to reach. Also, I feel that areas that will be covered will bring them to the point where they will be familiar with new technology, they will have additional health information, because everyday there is something new coming out about health.?

But according to administrators, an old belief of ?only women should be involved in health care? is preventing men from participating in the community nurse?s aide project.

Joan Flowers, Deputy Regional Mgr., Central Health Region
?Right now, presently, for the central region we have twenty-five community nurses aides who are all females. Yes, I don?t think that the services or that particular role is specific to females alone, but it will be a challenge for us to try and get some males to be involved, because are an integral part of the society and they have a role to play as well.?

Janelle Chanona
?What do you think is holding back the men from getting involved??

Joan Flowers
?Probably they are not approached or probably we have not actually set out to really get them involved. And sometimes, it depends on what they believe, their views, attitudes, and practices towards this sort of service since most men feel it?s a woman thing.?

If you would like more information on the Community Nurse’s Aide programme, please contact Karen Bodden at the National Drug Council in Belize City.

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