The community Health Volunteers of Karakalpakstan co-winners of the Peoples’ Voices Award

Sep 28, 2015

The Community Health Volunteers of Karakalpakstan – working along with UN Joint Programme “Sustaining Livelihoods Affected by the Aral Sea Disaster” have been selected as the co-winner of the Peoples’ Voices Award in the category of “Longstanding contribution to Millennium Development Goals achievement through volunteering”. The award was given at a ceremony held during the Post-2015 Summit at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday 25th of September. The volunteers sent their greetings and thanks to the award committee via video message. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m207NqH3sCA Their message was well received and applauded by the award ceremony audience.

The volunteers of Karakalpakstan are very happy for the recognition of their longstanding work in achieving Millennium Development Goal 6: combating tuberculosis. The volunteers have been working for several years (2010-2011, 2013-2015) on awareness raising of tuberculosis prevention and treatment in five rural districts of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. During 2014 1,730 community volunteers were trained to become health messengers in the battle against tuberculosis in the area. 86% of the volunteers were women. The campaign reached 32,000 households (approximately 247,000 inhabitants) of Karakalpakstan. The volunteers consisted of people representing various occupations and ages from nurses to teachers, from pensioners to young mothers. A special recognition was given to the Nurses’ Association, organization which played significant role when the project was implemented.

The desertification of the Aral Sea has brought a lot of dust in the air, and respiratory diseases - including tuberculosis – have become the largest local health problem among the population of Karakalpakstan, a region in the North Western part of Uzbekistan. The campaigning both increased the people’s knowledge of respiratory diseases and managed to change their behavior towards more positive and responsive attitude about one’s ability to affect one’s health. People’s attitude towards TB patients also changed notably during the campaign. Campaigning that increases knowledge, fights against miss-information, uncertainty and fear brings positive results as the psychological effect of positive information drives people to desired changes.

At the award ceremony the representatives of the United Nations, Member States, civil society and private sector stressed the importance of people’s participation when defining the new sustainable development agenda that has just been adopted unanimously by all UN Member States, and further underlined its importance in the years to come.

People’s engagement, including through volunteerism, is crucial for a successful implementation of the new 2030 agenda, which needs to be landed and localized to be inclusive and owned by people all over the world.

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