Discriminatory healthcare services will miss the most at-risk populations and fail to control the HIV pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Ethiopian doctor and Australia Award Awardee, Dr Noah.
Speaking on World AIDS Day, recipient of an Australia Awards double-degree Scholarship to study HIV, STI and Sexual Health at the University of Sydney, Dr Noah said he planned to use his award to address the poorly planned sexual and reproductive health services in Ethiopia on his return.
“My work to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic will cover a number of facets, including clinical care to people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, research, teaching and contributions to public health policy making and program delivery,” he said.
“Working specifically in the public health sector, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health services, nearly half of my work could be focused on HIV/AIDS, and I hope to be actively involved in making better health policies and conduct both scientific and public health research to direct those policies in order to ensure that at-risk people are taken care of.”
Dr Noah said that knowledge about HIV transmission, critical to bringing about behavioural change and reducing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, remains low in Ethiopia.
“That is why I believe more work is necessary to improve the overall comprehensive knowledge about HIV transmission through health promotion, especially targeting women, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and residents of rural areas.”
Importantly, Dr Noah is using his time on-Award in Australia to make key contacts in the sector, whom he will be able to call upon for advice when he returns home. He said working as a volunteer at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne earlier this year provided a huge opportunity to meet and network with HIV/AIDS experts from around the globe.
With approximately 24.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV, the Australian government’s commitment to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS on the continent, and reducing the stigma associated with it, is underlined by its investment in Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships.
Australia Awards is training more African health professionals to assist with the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS in their countries through the provision of Masters Scholarships with a focus on public health.
For more information on how Australia Awards assists in the fight against HIV in Africa, click here.