From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Sierra Leone's President Koroma to Receive MDG Award
By Mohamed Kanu
Sep 17, 2010, 17:12

President Ernest Bai Koroma has been marked to receive an award at the United Nations during the Organizationís General Assembly meeting scheduled for 20th-22nd¬†September 2010 in recognition of his governmentís outstanding leadership commitment and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Goal Six.


The Goal Six which is combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases have been found out by the world body as successful in Sierra Leone through political will from the Presidency, and collaborative efforts made by the National HIV/ AIDS Secretariat (NAS) in the Office of the President. These achievements have been arrived at by NAS using multi-sectoral approaches to address the epidemic.


The nomination was conducted by a Committee of development professionals within the UN system, with a range of first- hand experiences working towards addressing the MDGs at the ground level. Their efforts are aimed at increasing awareness of the MDGs among the global public and highlighting progress being made by countries towards their achievement, and also showcasing governmentís exemplary effort in achieving these Goals by Least Developed Countries (LDC).

 

President Ernest Bai Koroma


Informing the Press about the Award, the IEC/BCC Coordinator, Mr. Abu Bakarr B. Koroma noted that the Selection of the Sierra Leone Government by the said Committee of the UN was strictly in consonance with a selection criteria which states inter alia, that a country must demonstrate significant progress and impact in advancing a specific MDG Goal, must have a strong government leadership commitment, and must portray participatory multi stakeholders engagement strategy.

 

According to him, the National AIDS Secretariat in the Office of the President through support from the government and other NGOs has maintained best practices in its national campaign. He therefore called for continued multi-sectoral cooperation and coordination in the campaign, while noting that this recorded success, should not mark the end of their collective fight in ensuring that the spread of the epidemic is curtailed permanently in the country.


Recalling the successes of NAS over the period under review, he recalled that the country experienced a steady increase in HIV prevalence from 0.9% to 1.5% from 2005 to 2008 while the national HIV prevalence remained stable between 1.48% and 1.53%, according to the Demographic and Health Survey in 2008. On Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) he explained that PMTCT Sites increased from 326 in 2008 to 364 in 2009, consequent upon which helped to increase uptake of PMTCT services around the country. The number of pregnant women receiving Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) prophylaxis increased from 579 to 637 between 2008 and 2009.


Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing (VCCT), Mr. Koroma recounted increased from 369 in 2008 to 416 in 2009, as 145, 405 people went through the process in 2008, and 281, 218 were served in 2009. For condom distribution, an estimated 2, 676, 141 male and 4, 452 male and female condoms were distributed respective in 2008, while in 2009, 2, 185, 920 male and 16, 200 female condoms were distributed. 19, 461 and 27, 310 people were tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and Nutritional Support was given to 341 People Living with HIV by way of provision of nutritional support in 2008 and this increased by two-fold to 678 in 2009, while OVC Support increased from 803 to 836 within the same period.


Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) uptake increased between 2008 and 2009 from 1, 950 to 3, 660 clients, representing 28% and 52% of those in need of the service, while Treatment Centers also increased from 103 to 116 in the same period. The NAS 2008 Report of Survival Analysis for PLHIV on ART indicates that 84% of them are known to be on continued treatment twelve months after initiation of ART.


All of these successes would not have been recorded with the financial support especially from the Global Fund. Through the Fund, NAS mobilized USD 86 Million for thje period of five years for HIV/AIDS and Health Systems Strengthening and additional funds from the same source in the tunes of USD 18 Million and USD 26 Million from the GF R4 and GF R6 respectively.


The statistics above, Mr. Koroma maintained, clearly illustrates the continued achievement and diligent work of the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners in scaling up the National Response to HIV. ďThe most encouraging factor is that this commitment and leadership stems from the highest political position of the President, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma,Ē he said.


The IEC/BBC Coordinator called on Civil Societies, NGOs, the government through the President, media practitioners and citizens of the country for their continued relentless and concerted efforts as according to him, this success can only be maintained by this collaborative effort.


He ended up by disclosing that by the end of 2010, the NAS will launch its Strategic Plan so as to demonstrate its continual commitment to the fight and eradication of HIV/AIDS in the country.



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