Vanimo (Fides Service) – ‘Born to Live’ is the slogan of a campaign launched by the local Church in Papua New Guinea on 16 September, national independence day, by a special Commission set up by the PNG Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
A group of twenty women working at Catholic Health centres were given a special course by Doctor Ann Doherty, whom came from Nairobi for the occasion. The 2 part course offered training and qualification for leading campaigns to prevent transmission of AIDS mother/child. The project, the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea, is sponsored by the US Catholic Medical Board in New York.
In Papua New Guinea 80% of the population lives in rural areas and is not informed about AIDS which effects some 15,000 of the population of 5.7 million. The spread of AIDS is beginning to worry the authorities and they are promoting campaigns to spread awareness. At Port Moresby Hospital diseases connected with AIDS are the main cause of death. The virus strikes men and women equally. 90% of the infection is heterosexual and 8% from parent to child. The most effected social sector is the 15 to 34 years of age group.
Local missionaries say one of the causes is prosperity. “Prosperity has solved a lot of problems in PNG but it has provoked others hitherto unknown in this country: drug addiction, alcoholism, AIDS consumerism, corruption, growing social gap rich/poor. Our forces are deeply involved in evangelisation and human development”.
To prevent the spread of the disease and lessen its impact on society the local Church works hard in various fields: education to fidelity; social work with persons at risk for AIDS (prostitutes, street children etc); help parents to be responsible and to educate their children on sexual morality and behaviour and the problem of AIDS; work with the government and other organisations to eliminate discrimination of AIDS sufferers. PA (Fides Service 18/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 389)