Tuesday, 10 April 2012
In the past 15 years HIV/AIDS has become an epidemic in Indonesia, with Bali a hotspot for new infections.
ECU Health Promotion students are part of the fight against the disease, working to raise awareness and increase prevention among the population.
The students travelled to the country in January to be part of the Bali Workplace Program. The program followed the October placement last year, and allowed students to evaluate the success of intervention initiatives put in place during the student placement visit.
The students worked with local radio station Heartline Bali FM to produce a 90-minute radio program, which communicated the dangers of HIV and other diseases to the wider community, particularly those in remote villages.
Students found that community participants were responsive to the campaign, with many young people able to identify the main causes of the disease and remembering the aims of the intervention from the previous visit.
Dane Waters was one of the supervisors on the placement. He said that although the program has worked to increase awareness, there is still a long way to go.
"It's clear more work needs to be done about all of the risk factors and causes and to empower people to make smart choices," Dane said.
"Since awareness is increasing we hope to generate some behaviour change and steer away from high-risk behaviours. Health communication, particularly through participatory approaches such as community radio, is integral to support other projects aimed at generating behaviour change."
Final year Health Promotion student Nathan Hambly said the program highlighted the vast difference between Australia and Indonesia, particularly in their knowledge of diseases such as HIV.
"The treatment and spread of HIV is so well known in the developed world, yet in developing world communities such as Bali there is still such little knowledge about prevention and treatment," Nathan said.
"Using radio was a great way to get the information out there, and hopefully we made a difference. If we helped educate just one person about the dangers of HIV it was worth it!"
The program also looked at the incidence of diabetes, hypertension and other environmental health issues and effective methods of prevention and treatment.