From January 30th to February 1st the first training course for activists, titled: “It is possible to overcome AIDS: The DREAM Program”, was held in Kinshasa in cooperation with the National and the Multi-sectoral Programs against AIDS.
The DREAM Program operates in Congo DRC since 2009 with two health centers and two molecular biology laboratories, one of which located in Mbandakà, the capital of the Province of Equator and the second one located in Kinshasa, making available quality treatment of the disease, complete laboratory monitoring (Viral Load and CD4 count) and nutritional support to the local population, all completely free of charge. Currently there are over 2000 patients under the Program.
The Program started in Congo thanks to the contribution of the Group “Assicurazioni Generali” and of the Association for Children of the Danube which since 2008 has been supporting the Program. The Italian Cooperation has sustained the DREAM laboratory equipments for both centers.
The course was a big success and aroused great enthusiasm among activists. "We should affix posters through the city about the things we learned in the course!" was suggested by the participants, among other things. The course, the first of its kind held in Congo DRC, aims to create and grow among patients receiving treatment a first group of testimonials, peer educators and support to those who are most vulnerable. The program is in a phase of significant expansion and it is rooting increasingly in the large peripheral areas of the big cities,reaching distant districts and dozens of maternity wards. Several associations of HIV-positive patients participated, convinced that from the experience of the DREAM program it is possible to start working factually and give hope to the many patients who are still waiting to be treated. In addition there is a great demand for quality care also in Congo and DREAM represents a great opportunity.
The situation of the health centers and the network of specialized laboratories in the country is, in fact, very low: the sick have great difficulties in finding care and medication and laboratory tests are often not available, and in any case with a cost. The presence of the DREAM program has given great hope to the country and especially to the sick. The joy and happiness of being together in the course was very obvious. It is the positive "contagion" of the good news that even in Kinshasa it is not necessary to deal alone with AIDS anymore.
The course dealt with the epidemiological and clinical aspects of the disease, providing a solid education to those who will be the first ambassadors of the Program. "Today we know more things than doctors and nurses" – the participants said at the end of the course. "There was a need of DREAM and the Community. Thank you! "
The Italian Ambassador in Congo and the Assistant Manager of the National program have, at the end, delivered to each of the participants the Certification of Participation.
A beautiful prayer for the sick people completed the course, with a new meeting set in a month's time.
DREAM already has many requests for cooperation also from other organizations on the ground and engaged in the fight against AIDS, especially for the possibility to use the laboratories of Molecular Biology to ensure proper monitoring of patients undergoing treatment.
For the Next Triennium the DREAM Program will be supported by the Foundation "Le Generali" which, recognizing the high value and the great impact of the program, wanted to ensure its important contribution.