History of Training of Healthcare Workers in The Bahamas
In The Bahamas training of healthcare workers in HIV/AIDS started as early as 1985 shortly after the first person with HIV was identified. Initial topics included AIDS 101, Stigma and Discrimination, Death and Dying, Counselling and Testing, Home and Palliative Care, Post Exposure Prophylaxis, Safe Blood, Confidentiality, and HIV in the Workplace. Participants were mainly physicians, nurses, laboratory technologists and technicians.
Stigma and Discrimination was an essential topic as the epidemic brought a lot of fear, panic and feelings of hopelessness to Bahamians who were infected and affected. Some persons, when told that they were infected, took their lives, some persons completely isolated themselves and refused to seek further health care. Family members due to lack of knowledge and fear of being stigmatized and ostracized from their family, friends and community neglected their loved ones by denying them love, care, food and shelter. Patients, adults and children, when admitted to hospital were deserted and left in care of the nursing staff and social services. Healthcare providers refused to work on the Infectious Disease wards and provide nursing care for HIV infected patients. Patients requiring hospitalization for treatment other than HIV were denied admission to the general and surgical wards and were admitted to the Infectious Disease ward instead.
These issues were directly related to lack of knowledge regarding the disease itself and the mode of transmission. Consequently, these issues became the driving force for the production and execution of mass prevention education, health promotion seminars, workshops and trainings for healthcare providers, communities, high risk, minority and special groups. Funding sources included the government, PAHO/WHO and CAREC, and international, regional and local trainers planned, executed and facilitated the trainings, seminars and workshops.
The Bahamas Training Centre
The idea for a Bahamas National Training Centre was the brainchild of the Professor King Holmes (from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA) when he visited the Bahamas to assess the genital ulcer disease outbreak and supported the setting up of the Bahamas STI Program in 1990. The idea for the centre matured with the assistance of international partners such as Sick Children’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada under the leadership of Professor Stanley Read, Professor Farley Cleghorn and Dr. William Blatner; and the University of Maryland who provided the opportunities for healthcare providers to visit well established HIV/AIDS programmes within the respective countries and institutions. Technical cooperation among Caribbean countries also provided many Caribbean healthcare providers the opportunity to visit the Bahamas National AIDS Programme to observe and be trained in the Bahamas’ best practices. A team of midwives visited the HIV/AIDS Treatment Center at the University of Maryland and two teams from Belize, consisting of midwives, nurses, and physicians, visited the Bahamas National AIDS and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programmes. This was the Bahamas first experience in clinical mentoring and preceptorship training (Training Levels 3 and 4).
The Bahamas also assisted Belize in setting up their PMTCT Programme in providing technical support in policy and procedures development and training of healthcare providers in Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and PMTCT strategies. Trainings in VCT and PMTCT were conducted by a mobile team from the Bahamas, country-wide in the eight health districts in Belize. A total of 250 healthcare providers were trained.
During June 2003, a Training Coordinator was appointed for the Bahamas National Training Centre and the Curry House located in the Royal Victoria Gardens was identified as the site for the Centre. Since 2003 the Centre has operated out of the offices of the The Bahamas HIV/AIDS Centre and receives administrative assistance from the HIV/AIDS Centre personnel. Presently, the Curry House is undergoing renovations to accommodate the National Training Centre. The Centre will be located on the second floor and it will house a training room, large enough to accommodate 30 participants and 5 trainers, as well as a resource room/library, on-line training and internet conference room, and an administrative office for the Training Coordinator and Training Assistant.
In November 2003 the UWI HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWI HARP) conducted HIV/AIDS training for uniform officers in the Bahamas. The National Training Coordinator was very instrumental in planning and facilitating this training in collaboration with its sponsors: the American Embassy and the HIV/AIDS Centre.
In January 2004, CHART Bahamas held the first formal training, General HIV/AIDS Training for 30 healthcare providers. The goal of this training was to raise the awareness of healthcare providers regarding HIV care, support and treatment and to increase their knowledge in HIV in order to facilitate subsequent trainings, application and transfer of knowledge.
From January 2004 to February 2007, a total of 21 CHART-initiated trainings were planned and executed by the CHART Bahamas National Training Centre. A total of 731 healthcare workers from the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries have been trained. The training topics included VCT Providers Training; Clinical Skills Training; Nutrition and HIV/AIDS for persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and healthcare providers; Directly Observed Therapy; Comprehensive Skills Building for Community Health Workers; Pediatric Phlebotomy; PMTCT; Stigma and Discrimination; Clinical Management of HIV; and Integrating Clinical Management of HIV into Primary Health Care Services.
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