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ECCQ Chronic Disease Program staff bio: Iqbal Pakzad

“I am an Afghan and come from a Tajik cultural background. I am a trained medical doctor in Afghanistan. I have been living in Australia over the last 10 years. I have been involved in working with CALD community since 2013 to support asylum seekers and refugees with settlement, orientation Australian history, culture, governance structure and law. I have supported Afghan community members on health preventive measures and healthy living choices and linkage with health services for the last 4 years.

“My role with the Aqua Safe program is to provide training and awareness about the safety in water in Australia as Afghanistan is a land locked country and people are not very familiar with water safety, and are at greater risk of drowning. I also provide CPR and first aid training for them to be able to provide vital support to people in serious health conditions that would save their life before medical help arrives.

“What I like about my work is that I help to increase community awareness on health issues, support them to make healthy decisions, link them to services, and reinforce their existing cultural behaviours that are conducive to good health. Although we do not directly implement mental health initiatives, I am happy that the intervention of healthy lifestyle that I teach could have positive effects on the mental health of Afghan community members who have endured decades of war, and social and psychological hardship.

“My advice to CALD community members during COVID-19, is to wash your hands frequently, not go out unless it is necessary, follow physical distance advice, stay at home, and go for a test when having any symptoms of COVID-19.”

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