Monday, May 19, 2014

Nuestro Investigación Sobre Salud Familial

One of the core values of Aldeas SOS is to support a strong family structure through the development of community programmes in education, nutrition and familial health. Their aim is to build skills and knowledge within families and communities to enable them to support themselves, and is one of the reasons I was so keen to start working with them. I joined the Aldeas Strengthening Families project in April, and alongside our work in the children´s centres, delivering lessons on nutrition, health and behaviour, we have focused our research on family health issues.

We gave our first presentation at a monthly parent´s evening this week, where we introduced ourselves and the project, and ran a short activity on nutrition and taking care of your health. The audience was engaged and interested in our work and it was great to meet the parents of the children we have been working with.

Over the next 5 weeks we will deliver workshops at local community centres that will aim to inform parents, particularly women, about preventable diseases such as STIs and anaemia, as well as raising awareness of cancer and the importance of self-checking for symptoms and regular visits to the doctor.

Our focus in these workshops will be primarily on cancer awareness, in particular breast and cervical cancers, which have particularly high mortality rates here in Bolivia. 80% of diagnosed cases of cervical cancer are in developing nations, and through our research we discovered that in Bolivia, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women. 2 women die daily from the disease, and 8 new cases are diagnosed every day. By the time of diagnosis, most cancers have progressed to an advanced stage and are difficult to treat. This is in part due to a lack of awareness of the symptoms and risk factors of cervical cancer, and also the cost and inconvenience of screening, which has proved a barrier to care for women in Bolivia.

Cultural differences mean that open discussion of women´s health and the body here is rare, which is why we hope that our workshops will provide an informal and unintimidating forum to facilitate discussion between women about their health concerns. We also hope to continue the work of previous cohorts in this field, through arranging a cancer screening day where we will work with local health centres to provide inexpensive PAP tests.

This will help to fulfill our short-term goals, which are to provide facilitation and learning on the topics of health and the family structure, to increase the number of women receiving PAP tests, and encourage ´woman to woman´ discussion on health and body awareness. Over the long-term, our primary aim is to overcome myths and stigmas associated with sexual and familial health and to make women aware of their rights and entitlements. Empowerment is the undercurrent to all our work, and when we leave Bolivia in 5 weeks time, we hope to leave behind a sustainable programme that will continue to engage parents and children and support local families.

Written by Lindsay Allen
Editted by Desirée Benson

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