Spanish community in Anguilla take advantage of health awareness week

According to the organizers of the free health awareness tests in Anguilla, the Spanish community there has supported and participated in the successful event. The event, a health fair which took place at the Spanish Church in the Quarter involved the Anguilla Community Network (ACAN), the National AIDS Programme and the St. James Medical School. ACAN’s “Project Hope” was part of the fair. Project Hope is sponsored by the Governor’s Office.

“We are here supporting the health agencies. It is a great opportunity for us to interact with the community in Anguilla and we thank everybody concerned,” said Israel Benjamin, a Spanish pastor who serves with the World Harvest Assembly and the Red Cross. “We are thankful to Governor Christina Scott for sponsoring Project Hope, Mr John Lake, CEO of Anguilla Community Network, Saint James Medical School and the National AIDS Programme. We are glad to have had the opportunity to use this Spanish Church, right at the centre of The Valley. We are happy how the community has responded and that the people have opened up to the tests. The numbers coming forward looked very well and created a nice feeling.”

Meanwhile Ms Julie Anderson, a student of the Saint James Medical School, said “I think it is an honour to help with this health fair. Dr Davidson, who is the Dean of Students, coordinated with the Governor’s Office for students to participate in the event. There are different clubs at the school, including Red Cross and the American Medical Student Association, which coordinate health fairs like this and conduct one every month at different venues.”

The health fair included testing for blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol screening and also immediate HIV testing.

John Lake also expressed his gratitude to the other organizations which participated.  “I really thank the Governor’s Office for sponsoring Project Hope. It has helped to open the eyes of many persons in the community and the pastors’ symposium was a remarkable event in the way forward. We are having an evaluation of Project Hope on March 27. The Governor’s Office gave us US$8,000. We were also able to bring together the Fire and Rescue Department, the Gender Affair Unity, Churches and now the Spanish community in our efforts.”
Senior Health Educator, Mrs Jennifer Gumbs, said the Health Promotion Unit was at the fair to offer counselling to persons suffering from diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, prostate and other cancer illnesses, etc. She was pleased with the interest shown by various persons who had also taken advantage of the printed information made available to them.
Mrs Marza Demis-Adams, Director of the National AIDS Programme, stressed that the focus of the health fair was on total wellness and indicated that  last year 250 HIV screenings were done in the community, compared with an average of 900 a year at the hospital laboratory.

“Thus, for us to be doing rapid testing in the community, I find it quite good to be able to do about 300. That’s more than 25% of what is being done at the lab. It is another service to the people of Anguilla to encourage them to be tested. That is the message: know your status.”

Mrs Demis-Adams said that the majority of the funding for the National AIDS Programme was obtained from the European Union and managed by PAHO’s HIV/STI Unit in Trinidad and is a five year project ending this year.

“This means that a considerable amount of our funding is no longer going to be available. I think that the management office is looking for other ways to extend the project. Over the next three or four months I will be tied up completing a number of administrative and policy-based activities that still need to be completed, and in June an evaluator from the EU will be coming to Anguilla to do a national assessment of the project.” (Source The Anguillan Newspaper)


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