Some three hundred thousand children in Sierra Leone which is 11% of children are orphans because of HIV/AIDS, it was disclosed at the launching ceremony of the Validation Session on the manual Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) by the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat on Thursday at the Presidential Lodge, National stadium, Brookfields, Freetown.
Edmond Makieu project officer (OVC) and also chairman of the launching explained in his opening speech that the country’s prevalence remains low as a result of commitment and efforts through the leadership of NAS. He added that there should be no room for complacency which will help to redouble efforts in mitigating the speed of HIV and AIDS and also to provide needed services.
The project officer said the manual was as a result of the hard work of the two consultants; Dr.Noah Conteh and Dr. Rashid. He further explained that 18% of children are vulnerable in Sierra Leone and they are psychologically traumatized which is leading to a low ratio in school performance by orphans.
Mr. Makieu adviced NAS to put resources together so that there can be an equal access to them with regards the geographical proximity.
He also said that the manual gave a guide on who a vulnerable child is and also precautionary measures for a child infected with/affected by HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Brima Kargbo, the Director of NAS launched the one day workshop. In his statement he described the OVC manual as another important document in mitigating the impact of the disease which he said should be the collaboration of individual communities and the nation as a whole. He stated that over the years campaign on HIV/AIDS has been on awareness raising and now it is focusing on the most vulnerable groups in society.
He added that many people are going now for HIV/AIDS test and also taking the ARV Drugs. According to him, Government also has the responsibilities to support children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and also to provide basic essential services: Education, Health, housing and the like.
In his concluding statement, he said the fight against HIV/AIDS is still uncoordinated in most circles but added that the manual will now help to coordinate the activities of those involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Tommy Tengbeh , Liaison officer West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) attached to the Ministry of Health said his organization has confidence in NAS because of the successes it has scored over the years in fighting HIV/AIDS. He pledged to continue lobbying on behalf of NAS to see that it scores more goals. I hope that the manual will cater for the OVC he added.
Dr. Momodu Sesay, NAS team leader said the Ministry of Health considers the NAS as a guide through the productive sector which is making sure that resources are available to children and it is working assiduously to halt the spread of the disease.