By: Qisha Guoguo Trainer of Field Officers in Dimo Township
At the bitter-winter and year-end moment, I , was trained to be a Trainer of field officer in Dimo Township, I am so honored to participate in this incentive Gates Project Conference today December 18, 2019, in which, I have to present my daily work, difficulties I encountered and the measures that I took.
Dimo Township is located in the south of Zhaojue county and 32km away from the county town and it is one of the traditional Yi minority townships. Dimo is also one of the pilot projects’ townships for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation .Our work model is diversified to other townships since the large population of people lives separately because of the high risk epidemic.
Due to the inconveniences of local transport, we usually start our work at any time. Therefore Mr. Chen, the Head of Dimo Township Public Health Center, bought 2 Electronic bikes (E – bikes) for the 4 Field Officers using his own money. We often joke amongst ourselves, that during the Anti – Japanese war, the railway guerillas were riding bicycles whilst today, the Field Officers are using Electronic bikes to fight for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
The PMTCT Field Officers includes 4 graduates from college and 7 village women who are well aware of the village background and situation therefore we learn and cooperate very well with each other in order to carry out work properly, hence the villagers trust us.
During the farming season, we do household visits early morning or later in the afternoon when villagers are free at home.We also visit them during cloudy and rainy days because they will be at home. For HIV+ families and discordant couples, we first make appointments before visiting them.
Many villagers gather on the prophylactic vaccination time, during which we distribute nutrition packages to infants aged 6 months-2 years old, and as for children, we will go to the preschools to do our promotions with the support of the teachers.
At the beginning, we were clueless about our promotions, and 4 of us were used to visit villagers together, as a result, our HIV home-based test rate remained low. With trainings organized by Human People to People and Liangshan Prefecture Center for Maternal and Children Healthcare and Family Planning Service, we managed to make detailed plans including quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily on the basis of the childbearing women. We end our day by evaluating our daily work and goals according to our plans. After that we then adjust our work plans for the following day accordingly. By doing this our testing figures have improved and are now high.
During our household visits, we often observe that the villagers are afraid of thepain while being tested for HIV, and they don’t reckon that it is necessary they should receive many tests in a year. Some child-bearing women who want to give unscheduled birth try to being tested, whilstssome villagers don’t care about the nutrition packages we offer, by directly throwing them away and feeding them to pigs.
Facing such incoordination or nonsupport from villagers, we give them easy-understanding and straight-forward explanations, that we keep their personal information confidential, we get men away while testing women, thereby eliminating their resistance.
During Yi Minority Festival when many people who work outside come back, we take this opportunity to reach such people, accessing their Wechat and getting their phone numbers for further visits, mentoring and following up. If any doubt occurs in daily life, these people can also consult us, and some of us have become good friends with them as time passes on.
Mr. Chen, Head of the health center, often encourages us: There is neither lowliness nor nobleness in work, PMTCT acts like a doctor with an operation knife saving a person on an operation table, a successful blockade is equal to saving a life, inversely, a failure one means killing a person by your own hand.
Facingwith such a sacred duty, each of us dare not to relax . We visit villagers for household education and HIV home-based rapid tests at 17:00 when villagers come back from farm work. We often work late into night for we start late in the afternoon because the village are scattered , so in such a condition, villagers often take the initiative to offer us their flashlights for lighting.
No matter how late we work, nobody complains, and everyone is meticulous and conscientious for PMTCT to reach the goal of zero-infection of children and improvement of the health level for villagers.
To boost up efficiency and indogenous power of the “1+M+N”model of HIV/AIDS prevention and control in 10 key townships in Liangshan prefecture, Liangshan Prefecture Center for Maternal and Children Healthcare and Family Planning Service entrusts the Federation for Associations Connected to the International Humana People to People Movement (Switzerland) Sichuan Representative Office to provide technical support to those 10 key townships. The project lasts from July 2019 to April 2020, and one of its key project activities is to screen candidates of potential project officers as Trainers. A series of trainings witness those field officers at the grass roots play a “passing on”, “helping” and “driving” role in PMTCT (“pass on” their professional knowledge or skills to other field officers, “help” their work partners by any chance or in any different field and “driving” new field officers).
The author is one of 20 trainers mentored by Humana People to People.
The project is funded by Liangshan Prefecture Center for Maternal and Children Healthcare and Family Planning Service.
Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of the donor.