AS the nurse manager for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) clinic at Angau Provincial Hospital in Lae, Morobe, Julie Kitoneka conducts testing and counselling, treatment and management of patients with the virus.
One of her significant roles is preventing infants from being infected at birth and with the support of her team, Kitoneka has facilitated safe delivery of more than 30 babies in 2022.
Kitoneka also encounters victims of gender-based violence (GBV), intimate partner violence (IPV) and child abuse on a daily basis while dealing with disability and HIV cases.
Hence, she applied to do a graduate certificate in counselling through the Australia Awards short courses programme.
Kitoneka was one of 26 awardees – six men and 20 women – who studied the course in 2019 at Griffith University in Australia.
“When the scholarship was awarded to me, I was very excited knowing that the gaps identified in my practice as a nurse counsellor would in a way be addressed through undertaking the course,” she said.
“I knew that this was a blessing and opportunity.”
Kitoneka was particularly grateful for the chance to study in Australia.
“The counselling course has enhanced my counselling skills,” she said. “It gave me a deeper knowledge to deliver good counselling services to my patients or clients.
“I learnt about the approaches that I am now using to help the patients and clients achieve their set goals.
“It also gives me the ability to identify patients or clients who are facing gender-based violence and intimate partner violence and help them to access services that are available in the province.
People with disabilities also have access to all HIV services and are treated the same as everyone.”
As a facilitator or trainer, Kitoneka said that the skills acquired from the course had also helped her in facilitating capacity building training for the HIV programme in Morobe.
He also had the opportunity to be one of the facilitators for the 2021 course, training 24 other Papua New Guineans under the short course awards programme.
She urged more men to take up counselling roles as they can create more impact in eliminating violence against women.
“When men participate in counselling of GBV cases, they will be like role models to other men as well as advocates within their communities or organisations,” she said.
Kitoneka also urged victims of GBV or IPV to seek assistance as early as possible and not respond with violence
The national / PNG health Watch
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