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SADC Nurses Launch HIV/AIDS Network




 

WOZA (Johannesburg) - May 23, 2001

Nurses from the Southern African Development Community will launch the SADC HIV/AIDS Network of Nurses and Midwives (Sannam) in Pretoria on Wednesday. More than 10 SADC countries will be represented at the meeting, held at the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) offices in Pretoria.

Denosa President, Professor Philda Dudu Nzimande, told iClinic that the network is not only going to establish a regional network for sharing information, building capacity and promoting the best practices in dealing with the pandemic, but it also promises to for the first time, unify African nurses' voice in the world.

"I am one of the delegates at the International Council of Nurses Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark from June 10-15 and in the past, nurses from Africa attending the congress were divided - with the new network, we hope to present one voice," Nzimande told iClinic.

She says that before the International AIDS Conference in Durban last year, Denosa organised a satellite meeting for nurses from the 14 SADC countries on HIV/AIDS, with the main aim - in line with the theme of the conference - to get nurses to "break the silence" on HIV/AIDS.

The question there was raised: "What can we do, as a collective, to prevent the further spread of the disease?". While the Durban satellite meeting was really international, with nurses from Europe and the US attending, today's meeting will be purely SADC.

"We will ask ourselves - and task the network with finding answers to and coordinate activities around - the questions: how can we work together as SADC nurses and midwives around awareness raising, prevention, caring and treatment of HIV/AIDS? And how can we protect the nurses involved with HIV/AIDS work from getting infected or even fired for being HIV-positive? "At the satellite meeting, we made recommendations. One of them was to formalise our agreement in the SADC region around HIV/AIDS.

"Luckily we had people who promised funding - the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS and Canada. But we are appealing to local business to help us as well," Nzimande told iClinic.

Representatives from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho Uganda, Mauritius and the Seychelles have confirmed their attendance.

The Southern African region is one of the worst hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with AIDS being one of the leading causes of death - often following intensive nursing and care of multiple acute and chronic illnesses.

At the meeting of the SADC Health Ministers held last month in Botswana, a report on SANNAM was presented and the Health Ministers pledged their support. They further pledged to encourage their respective nursing organisations and associations to join SANNAM.

Although Denosa is heading the setting up of the network, the organisation will involve other nursing and midwifery organisations in the region.

On Wednesday, a Chair and a coordinating committee will be elected. The network will operate from Denosa's offices in Pretoria.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in May 23, 2001. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.