NAS and UNFPA on comprehensive condom programming
The National AIDS Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, over the weekend concluded a two-day workshop on comprehensive condom programming at the National Stadium Hostels in Freetown. The workshop brought together partners in HIV response drawn from across the country.
Sierra Leone is making frantic effort to ensure zero new HIV infection by 2015. The challenges ahead cannot be solved by NAS and the UN Family alone, this is why they are involving active partners to help achieve the desired goal. At present HIV prevalence is been stabilized at 1.5% and there are indications that the infection rate is now climbing down the ladder. This shows that the country is making progress.
Condom is one of the most vital tools in HIV and other STIs prevention. When correctly used, it is 99.9% safe to prevent HIV, other STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
Both NAS and UNFPA thought it fit to involve partners in making condoms reach every corner of society.
According to the Information and Communication Officer at NAS, Abu Bakarr Koroma, condoms are readily available in the country, and added that some people don’t even know its values in prevention of not only STIs but also unwanted pregnancies. “The cost of condom is relatively low, and at times free,” he said.
Mr. Koroma pointed out the fact that it is good to build the capacity of partners so that they in turn go to hard-to-reach areas on condom promotion. “We have well over ten million pieces of male and female condoms in the country,” he said, and further revealed that NAS is encouraging partners to take these condoms to their communities for distribution.
Condoms, he said cost money and this is why it should be utilized well so that the donors that are providing this life-saving material will be proud enough to see Sierra Leone making use of resources provided. “We should see condoms as important materials like test kits and other tools used to do an effective and efficient work,” says the IEC and BCC Communications Officer.
He admonished partners that are helping in the distribution to be recording and report on activities done. “Please feel free to come to our offices at Kingharman Road. We have both male and female condoms available for distribution,” Mr. Koroma concluded.
Advocacy Officer in the Network of HIV Positives questioned the reasons as to why there are much taboos tied on the use of condom when the fact remains that it has long been used by personalities. Arnold Macauley reminded his audience that condoms have been used as contraceptives that have no side effect like the tablets and coil used to prevent unwanted pregnancies. “I don’t know why people are painting the use of condom black. We should not perceive the use of condom as means of promoting promiscuity,” he warned.
It can be recalled that Sierra Leone was awarded with a Millennium Development Awards for the country’s active role in responding to HIV and AIDS. The country is now standing the test of times to prove to the entire world that it deserves such an envied laurel.
The correct use and promotion of condoms could serve as one of the catalysts in addressing zero new infection by 2015. Sierra Leoneans are expected to take the lead in saving lives by serving as ambassadors on condom use, taking HIV test and preaching prevention methods across the country.
By HARA News Team
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