Order of Malta Upholds Dignity of HIV/AIDS Patients During World AIDS Day Workshop
In observance of World AIDS Day, the Order of Malta Philippines conducted a workshop on providing palliative care to HIV and AIDS patients last December 8, 2017. A total of 36 participants comprised of medical practitioners, teachers and parish lay leaders attended the day-long seminar
The goal of the training was for the public to understand the profile and nature of patients afflicted with HIV/AIDS so that a proper and dignified care can be offered to individuals who have contracted the virus. The audience listened to lectures conducted by Dr. Perla N. Ablan and participated in simulation activities where they were asked to practice proper counseling to patients.
“The objective of this seminar is to shift focus away from the disease and its stigma. Instead, we want to show participants how they can meet the needs of the patients and improve the quality of their lives,” said Dr. Ablan.
Throughout the day, misconceptions and prejudices against people with HIV/AIDS were directly addressed to change existing mindsets about the disease.
At first, Ms. Loremar Ramos, head of Social Service at Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish in Paco, Manila had second thoughts attending the seminar given that she did not want to be associated in any way with individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS .
“I realized today how difficult it is to be treated like an outcast because of HIV/AIDS. Through the role playing activity, I felt the pain of HIV/AIDS patients and realized that they also deserve to be treated with more understanding,” remarked Ms. Ramos.
Ms. Ramos also learned how to respond to both the physical and psychological needs of patients.
“AIDS does not have a cure. But this seminar taught us we could still prolong the lives of HIV/AIDS patients, but more than adding number of years, what is crucial is improving their quality of life by making them feel accepted, forgiven and loved,” added Ms. Ramos.
Meanwhile, Ailyn Adao, a nurse at the San Lazaro Hospital, appreciated the fact that she was with non-medical practitioners in this forum because it gave her encouragement that there is a community effort in tackling the problem of HIV/AIDS.
“I can feel the sense of unity in terms of confronting the affliction. Two thumbs up to the Order of Malta for their commitment and advocacy in upholding the dignity of HIV/AIDS patients,” remarked Ailyn.
After all the lectures and activities, the participants reported on how they could promote the dignity of HIV/AIDS patients and on their proposed programs in their respective communities. The organizers then prepared a commitment activity by lighting a candle and making a pledge to help HIV/AIDS-afflicted individuals.
Don Eric Nicolas, Hospitaller of the Philippine Association of the Order of Malta, and Doña Asuncion Picornell attended the workshop. At the end of the event, Ms. Picornell gave a short message of thanks and acknowledgement for the participants of the training session
The advocacy of the Order of Malta Philippines regarding its involvement with HIV/AIDS patients started in 1999 upon the initiative of then Magistral Chaplain Msgr. Francisco G. Tantoco, Jr. and Hospitaller Don Luis Quimson. From then on, the Order actively participated in various HIV and AIDS-related advocacies and projects in partnership with the Department of Health, San Lazaro Hospital and the Philippine National AIDS Council.
The workshop was organized in collaboration with the PHAP (Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines) CARES Foundation. This is the third HIV/AIDS-related workshop conducted for 2017. The Order of Malta Philippines will continue to run these workshops in NCR and other provinces next year.