AFGHANISTAN: UNESCO helps officials to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS

Photo: UNODC
Afghanistan's growing number of injecting drug users remains a source of concern for the country
Kabul, 30 August 2006 (PlusNews) - A two-day United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) workshop designed to help raise students’ awareness of HIV/AIDS has been held in Kabul.

Roxanna Shapour, a UNESCO public information officer in Kabul, the Afghan capital, said the workshop aimed to revise the teacher training manual so it provided the tools needed to raise students’ awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improve preventive education.

More than 20 officials from the Afghan Ministry of Education, Kabul Education University representatives and teachers attended the event.

There are 58 registered cases of HIV in Afghanistan, but health officials believe the real number is much higher.

Dr Shokrullah Waheedi, head of preventive medicine in the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), said a countrywide survey of the virus had not been conducted and it was spreading due to a lack of awareness.

UNESCO and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launched a toolkit programme on HIV/AIDS for the Ministry of Education at the end of the workshop. It had been designed to help mid-level and senior officials reinforce preventive education, raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education system and increase collaboration on action against the virus, officials said.

Anwar Alsaid, a UNESCO programme specialist in Kabul, said 500 copies of the toolkit had been made in both the Dari and Pashto languages for distribution to officials and teacher training institutions. The kit, which contained basic information on the virus, had been developed by UNESCO and UNAIDS to encourage and help education ministries across south-east Asia and the Pacific.

Health experts have warned that war-ravaged Afghanistan faces a high risk of an HIV/AIDS epidemic due to the growing number of injecting drug users, refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran, the high number of internally displaced people, high illiteracy and ignorance, the low status of women, poor safe sex practices, a weak public health system and low awareness of the virus.


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