Over the weekend, Choithram Memorial Hospital at Hill Station in Freetown officially opened its HIV/AIDS Outpatient laboratory to the public.
Giving a presentation of the project and outpatient laboratory, Dr Joseph Kallon said work on the HIV OPD and lab started in March 2007, adding that this was due to the collaborative effort between the ICRC and Choithram Memorial Hospital.
He added that the ICRC provided the technical support to its setting up and running, so that in the management of HIV/AIDS to ensure that treatment of patients met relevant international standards.
Dr Kallon noted that support had been given to the training of laboratory technicians, adding further that regular exchange on professional standards and procedures was going on between himself and the lab technicians on the one hand, and specialized medical professionals from ICRC.
He maintained that the ICRC provided material support, including a high standard CD4 counter machine to carry out blood tests as well as other equipment.
Choithram Memorial Hospital, he said, provided manpower for the day to day smooth running of the HIV/AIDS OPD and laboratory.
Dr Kallon stated that the collaborative effort between Choithram Hospital and the ICRC had been fruitful and beneficial since the project’s inception.
He pointed out that in keeping to the directives and guidelines of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) and the national HIV/AIDS policy for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients; consultation fee for patients with HIV/AIDS was free of charge.
This, he said, included first visit and subsequent visits for the continiuos management of patients. Dr Kallon assured that confidential of medical data, including results of HIV testing, was guaranteed at all times.
In his statement the director of NAS, Dr Brima Kargbo said the step taken by ICRC and the Choithram Hospital was a big one in the diagnosis of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.
He added that, “48, 000 people are living with the disease and only 21,000 are undergoing treatment”, adding that the fight against the disease was not a one man business.
The director echoed that Choithram Hospital had all the equipment to cater for people living with the disease.
Giving the welcome address Dr Len Gordon Harris, medical director of Choithram, said the HIV/AIDS Outpatient laboratory was an ongoing programme but that it was not open to the public because “we want it to function well without itches before opening it to the public”.
He added that International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sierra Leone had provided technical and financial support to the HIV outpatient laboratory.