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Cabrini’s health missions put on a great show

Date: 07/08/2018

MELBOURNE: It was a full house for the Showcase Session at Cabrini’s International Health Commission Meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 August.

The crowd of delegates from across the world gathered together with local Australian Cabrini Sisters, Board members and staff at Cabrini’s Patricia Peck Education and Research Precinct to hear from representatives about programs and challenges unique to their country.

Argentinian paediatrician Dr Juan Antonio Nunez Postigo and clinic manager Adriana Quevedo kicked off the showcase with their school health program, which they said was “one of the most important works we do”. The pair said this program focuses on prevention and covers physical, emotional and spiritual health, and informs children about nutrition.

The clinic also has a number of volunteers who help them with their homework, “otherwise they end up on the street getting involved in drug trafficking or criminal activity,” Adriana said.

Community engagement was the topic of choice for Guatemala’s dispensary administrators Claudia Aceituno Caceres de Gaitan and Nidia Pirir Ubedo de Gonzalez. The duo spoke about how encouraging the community to learn more about health benefits everyone, with a particular focus on women, children and the elderly. “Our success is working hand in hand with the community,” Claudia said. A memorable video was shown, demonstrating the work the two clinics are doing to help change lives.

Ethiopia’s showcase was based on strategic planning, a five-year plan which is just weeks away from implementation and which will seek

Nurse Mbonisi Siziba of Cabrini Ministries Swaziland presented their family services anti-retroviral complete package, and in particular the outreach HIV-AIDS testing services, which has made a great difference to patients and the local community, reducing the prevalence and burden of this illness.

Infection Control Officer Susan Aipit from Papua New Guinea spoke about malnutrition, and how it is the leading cause of death in children under five years of age. She says education is key, as well as funding but they are “confident it will improve over time”.

Johanna Hunt and Johanna Neville presented the Baby One program, which is offered through the Apunipima Cape York Health Service in far north Queensland. Established since 2014, the program offers families visits from pregnancy until the infant turns 1000 days old or around three years of age. As well as offering child development checks and information on starting children on solid foods and sleeping arrangements, they also discuss drinking alcohol, smoking and domestic violence.

The showcase session concluded with a final presentation on Cabrini’s screening tool for asylum seeker and refugee mental health – a six-minute evaluation for asylum seekers and refugees who may be suffering from mental health issues, which can be administered by people who are not mental health workers.

All of these programs were from different countries and focused on varying community health needs, each one addressed their community’s needs providing a source of inspiration and demonstrating that Cabrini’s health missions have much to learn and gain from one another.