Fellows from the University of Guyana visit Australia

Fellows from the University of Guyana visit Australia

Colleagues from the University of Guyana, University of Canberra, Sport Matters and CLAN meet and discuss future collaborative options.

Many thanks to Dr Barbara Reynolds and Rev Noel Holder for their involvement as recipients of the Australia Award Fellowship program in 2015. Generously funded by DFAT, the objectives of the fellowship were:

1. Strengthen community capacity to reduce childhood NCD-related morbidity and mortality
2. Implement social enterprise activities benefiting mothers / youth / children with NCDs
3. Facilitate research into childhood NCDs
4. Support disability inclusive policies promoting education and sport for children with NCDs 

The fellows share their insights below.

Meeting Australians passionate about the prevention, treatment and care of children and adolescents affected by NCDs, and about the linkages between research, policy and practice in the same space was truly inspirational.  We met officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Canberra) and the Victoria Department of Education, academics and researchers at Avondale College, the Aboriginal  Medical and Health Research Council of New South Wales, the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales and Canberra, and the Westmead Children's Hospital, with advocates and practitioners at Epilepsy Action, the Epilepsy Foundation, Sports Matters, Football United and the Ronald McDonald House, and with Administrators at the South Pacific Division of Seventh Day Adventists.  Our fellowship was funded by DFAT, organised and hosted by CLAN, and we benefited from CLAN's networks and goodwill, evidenced in the very positive and cordial reception we received everywhere. 

Thank you, DFAT, CLAN and friends!!  

We came away impressed by the energy that our discussions generated, the endless possibilities to make a difference, and the reaffirmation about what's best about our collective human project - that despite social differences, fundamentally we all want to grow up happily and healthily, find a great vocation, raise a fabulous family and help those most in need!  And, as a bonus, we learned to use Sydney's transportation system, shop at Woolworths, take photos of the iconic Sydney Opera House and see a koala!

As we return to Guyana, we remain committed to our aims of linking research, advocacy and technical assistance to enhance the contribution of non-government actors in Guyana.  Guyana has the highest incidence of adolescent suicide in the world, and a growing incidence of diabetes and respiratory conditions.  Cancer continues to be a virtual death sentence and cardiovascular disease is increasing.  With a supportive government, small population, high levels of literacy and basic education, the abundance of healthy food and a sports-crazy society, there is a good chance that we can, as a nation, bring these conditions under control, as well as provide a caring and supportive environment for children and families affected by chronic conditions. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be weaving into our plans and practice the insights and perspectives we gleaned over the past few weeks.  In Australia, we've been reminded about the positive effects of clear and coherent policies, informed by the best available evidence and backed-up with adequate funding.

We look forward to seeing similar shifts in the situation in Guyana!