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NAS, UNFPA end condom clinic

NAS, UNFPA end condom clinic

The National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) in alliance with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday Wednesday 28th October 2009 ended a two-day validation workshop on the National Strategic Plan for Comprehensive Condom Programming (CCP).

The seminar which commenced on the 27th October 2009 at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium in Freetown came to successful completion as stakeholders met to chat the way forward in enhancing the comprehensive use of condoms.

Dr. Jarrie Kabbah-Kebbey, National Programme Officer-UNFPA, said during the opening ceremony that the two partner organizations-NAS and UNFPA have been working on the CCP since October 2008, with support from the Global Condom initiative and Population Council. The Global Condom Initiative and Population Council she said aims at helping countries in their struggles to minimize the burden of HIV pandemic as well as other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unnecessary or accidental pregnancies.

The UNFPA Programme Officer impressed that the council has been actively involved in strengthening the capacities of countries to increase access to male condom and introduce female condoms; a phenomenon he said is fast gaining grounds. “A national condom programming committee, comprising government representatives, non governmental organization, community based organizations and United Nations agencies, has been very instrumental in the process of developing a draft situational analysis and five years comprehensive condom programming strategy plan” she told stakeholder at the workshop. The objective she maintained is to ensure that every Sierra Leonean enjoys his or her sexual life in a safe way without having to live in fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

The learned Doctor explained that condoms use is a dual family planning method, which she said can prevent transmission of HIV and other STIs as well as prevent unwanted pregnancies that often result in unsafe abortions, increased in maternal death that has besieged the country and much of sub-saharan countries. The UNFPA rep called on donors to invest in condom use and programmes so that there will be the needed increase in access and use.

In the keynote address, Director of National HIV/AIDS Secretariat, Dr. Brima Kargbo, revealed that A National Strategic Plan has been developed to be implemented within the period of 2009 through 2013. He pointed out that the “plan is aimed at contributing  towards improvement of the quality of reproductive health and empowerment of women, men, and young people in Sierra Leone through increased demand, access to and utilization of quality and affordable male and female condoms for dual protection”; adding that “the strategy will help to empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive lives through the introduction or reintroduction, promotion and distribution of female condom”.

He noted that the recent demographic and health survey reveals that the national HIV prevalence is at the verge of stabilizing, adding that this has been achieved through strong collaboration and support from partners that have worked round the clock to steady the tide he said. The NAS boss assured the general public and partner organizations of the government and the Secretariat’s continued support to give necessary guidelines leading to the achievement of a standardized document and frame work with which they can operate. Dr. Kargbo encouraged all participants to take the training seriously so that effective conclusions can be reached at as how to make the comprehensive use of both male and female condoms a reality.

Earlier in the ceremony, the Programme Manager Reproductive Health/Family Planning of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Sarian Kamara, urged all and sundry to support the efforts of the National AIDS secretariat, National Comprehensive Condom Programming Committee, UNFPA and population Council, in order for them to make condom accessible to all women and men of reproductive ages as common vaccines are made available and affordable in the country.

Dr. Sarian Kargbo revealed further that the information in the comprehensive plan will help government and other development partners to map and develop meaningful programme that will ensure the availability of condoms for users. She added that the implementation of the national strategy will assist Sierra Leone to progress towards improving the reproductive well being of all the people living in the country.

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