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Sierra Leone News: Country coverage of HIV services is low – NAS Boss

In the mid-term review (MTR) of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2016-2020 of the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) has discovered that the country coverage of HIV services is low. The MTR was commissioned was to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of strategies in the NSP. Presenting the findings of the review, Director General of NAS, Dr. Momodu Sesay, said they are challenged in getting testing and treatment sites together in all facilities across the country. “We are fighting to get to universal access to testing and treatment, so wherever you are you can access the services easily. In terms of access, all district hospitals have access to treatment and testing, some of the community health centres have access to testing and treatment,” he said. According to data provided by the Secretariat, of the 1,300 facilities nationwide only 60% of the facilities are providing testing services and 24.5% or 305 facilities are providing treatment. The review findings also showed that the HIV prevalence may be higher than 1.5 million but that estimate was based on the 2013 DHS and that they will only make another measure only through the 2018/2019 DHS. Positivity rates among children is said to be reducing but the progress is slow. Dr. Sesay said that trends on new infections are declining but that positivity rate across different categories of populations is increasing. He revealed that men are more affected than women and that the high burden districts have increased from 7 to 9 districts, namely, Western Area Urban and Rural, Kenema, Bo, Kono, Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and Bombali. NAS will be reviewing its implementation strategies to accommodate the recommendations such as increasing the number of service delivery points by reviewing policies and legal frameworks. They will also be targeting adolescents and young people like fisher folks, bike riders and miners and explore other sources of funding outside the traditional sources as advocacy for increased budgetary support from government is on going. The HIV/AIDS fight is riddled with challenges especially the issue of stigma and discrimination, which is still high among communities and in healthcare settings.

ZJ/5/12/18

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Thursday December 06, 2018.

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