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ARG trains LAB Technicians on HIV/AIDS Specimen Management in Sierra Leone
By Abu Bakarr Munu
Jan 16, 2006, 14:57

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A three day training workshop organized by the Aids Response Group (ARG) an ancillary of the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) for Laboratory Technicians nationwide on specimen management has ended, at the Lakka National Reference Laboratory (NRL).


Team Leader: Dr. Brima Kargbo

The training workshop which was held from the12th to the 14th January targeted both public and private laboratory technicians and was aimed at educating them about HIV/AIDS Rapid Diagnostic Testing and Quality Assurance Testing in Sierra Leone.

Welcoming participants, the NRL manager, Sylvester Tamba Kamanda, who had just returned from a training course in Abidjan on the subject under review, emphasized the importance of the workshop and admonished them to take great care in the handling of equipment and gadgets, while reminding them to take care of the equipment in line with international standards.

The HIV/AIDS Medical Consultant, ARG, Dr. Haroun Turay speaking on behalf of his boss, Team Leader Dr. Brima Kargbo, welcomed the participants and apologised for the unavoidable absence of his boss who he said was busy conducting some programmes relating with HIV/AIDS in the southern provincial headquarter town of Bo. While he emphasized the significance of the workshop, he also expressed optimism that the workshop will end on a positive note and hope that the participants will make good use of what they had learned.

 
HIV/AIDS Consultant: Dr. Haroun Turay

Dr. Turay went on to say that although Sierra Leone is still regarded as a low HIV/AIDS prevalent country by WHO standards, he maintained that as medical practitioners, they should not seat down on their hoars in complacence and allow the country to take the toll of countries where the prevalence is high.

Dr. Turay further explained about the recent sero-prevalence HIV/AIDS survey conducted in Sierra Leone by a Ghanaian contracting company which report, he noted, indicated that the disease is on the rise in Sierra Leone. According to Dr.Turay in 2002, a survey conducted in the country by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) based in Atlanta, USA gave the prevalent result of HIV/AIDS as 0.9% noting that at that time, the sample size was just 2,443 persons.

N.R.L Assistant Manager: Mr. E.V. Sofoi

He pointed out however that the most recent survey with a sample size of 8,463 persons of which 167 proved positive in 14 districts across the country which was calculated to represent 1.5% is an indication of a rise in the prevalence rate in the country. As it is now, Dr. Turay pointed out, the 1.5% which he said, is the present official HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Sierra Leone.

Explaining further Dr. Turay noted that the report indicated that Koinadugu district has the highest prevalence rate of 3% while Tonkolili district recorded the lowest with just 0.5%. He further noted that the report also indicate that higher institutions of learning recorded the highest rate of HIV positive and that the sample ages were between 15-24 which according to him are child bearing people.

He concluded by saying that these results were proved beyond all reasonable doubt through series of tests to make sure that the report is scientifically and technically sound for the world to put Sierra Leone on the global effort to fight HIV/AIDS.

Participants at the training workshop

The Assistant Lab Manager at the National Reference Laboratory, Eric Vandi Sefoi, who spoke on the topic, ‘Basic biology and immunology of HIV virus’ emphasized to the participants the importance of handling specimen, and admonished them to always ensure that the specimen are stored under manufacturers’ prescribed temperature in order to keep their protein contents in good form.

Mr. E.V. Sefoi stressed that it would do the participants a great deal of good if only they understand the concept of simple basic biology and immunology regarding HIV and went further to explaine what is meant by HIV-Retro. According to Mr. Sefoi, it is the extraction of protein from an HIV/AIDS virus and placing them on test kits and that during the testing process these poteins are acted on as anti-body-antigen reactors.

The workshop Co-ordinator, Abu Bakarr Koroma disclosed that National Reference Laboratory is suppported by CDC-Atlanta, the World Bank and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS).

In a separate talk S.T. Kamanda explained to journalists the testing algorithms of HIV.


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