In a bid to eradicate the dreadful Hiv/Aids virus in Sierra Leone in line with Africa’s common position of ending the disease on the continent by 2030, Her Excellency the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma has secured a major boost to halt the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone at the just concluded Africa’s First Ladies Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Addressing the 16th Ordinary Session of the General Assembly of the Oganisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs. Koroma stated that she was extremely happy to report that Sierra Leone has defeated the Ebola Virus Disease which was also a major threat to the fight against Hiv/Aids in the country.
She said Sierra Leone was ready for business as its recovery programme had already started following the end of the second devastating war in the country during the last two decades, citing the civil conflict which ended in 2002 and the Ebola Virus Disease.
H. E. Mrs. Koroma informed the Assembly that the Four Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits provided to her office by Alere Diagnostic was handed over to the country’s National HIV and AIDS Secretariat in 2015 to test pregnant women for HIV and Syphilis as part of the prevention of mother to child transmission.
She stated that the method of screening was innovative and highly successful because pregnant women were not only tested for sexually transmitted infections that would have been deadly to themselves and unborn babies, but also encouraged more pregnant women especially the younger ones to report for treatment and care.
The First Lady reported that the kits were nationally validated in 2014 and were discovered to be 100% sensitive and specific. She said the algorithm of the testing has been identified, training on its use completed, and that the post market validation was also finalized.
She informed the Assembly that pilot test of the kits was carried out in five clinics within the Western District of the country where the capital city of Freetown is located. She explained that a total of 3,950 pregnant women went through the process successfully and that 97 of them were tested positive for HIV, 6 were tested positive for syphilis and 5 were also tested for both HIV and Syphilis.
Her Excellency the First Lady informed her peers that despite the successful piloting and implementation of the test kits in Sierra Leone, there were major challenges confronting the fight against the HIV Virus in the country.
She highlighted the lack of HIV testing kits at all ANC sites, low PMTCT coverage, high vertical transmission rate, and lack of the necessary funds to increase the use of the kits nationally as key barriers to the fight in getting rid of the disease in the country.
The leadership of the OAFLA commended Mrs. Koroma for her brilliant presentation, her dedication and commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone, especially her focus on pregnant women and new born babies. She was also praised for her level of accountability and transparency in the process.
The President of Alere Healthcare Africa, Mr. Tom Lindsay commended H.E Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma for a job well done in the fight to eliminate the HIV/AIDS virus in Sierra Leone. He said he was particularly impressed with the astute leadership of Mrs. Koroma and her high level of accountability of donor resources. Mr. Lindsay stated that his institution was extremely pleased with the feedback and report on the use of the Four Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits provided to the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Lindsay made a surprised announcement of an additional donation of Ten Thousand DUO Rapid Test Kits to the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone as a show of confidence and appreciation for what he described as “the fabulous work of First Lady Koroma”.
He further accepted the invitation by Mrs. Sia Koroma to visit Sierra Leone and promised to be in Freetown by March 2016 in order to support the First Lady in her priority areas relating to capacity building through NGOs , youth and adolescence programmes and public private partnership projects for the country.