The workshop which aimed at training media practitioners in that part of the country on contemporary constraints the campaigners are facing to eradicate HIV/AIDS also succeed in establishing concrete collaboration with the journalists in sensitizing the susceptible community members on the dangers of ostracizing people suffering from the sickness and unbelieving that HIV/AIDS is real.
In his welcoming statement the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of NETHIPS, Edward Bailor maintained that, in a move to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, it is necessary to increase sensitizing both AIDS patients and the unaffected population on their respective rights and responsibilities.
“It is a historic obligation to the 39 million people who have died of the disease globally and also represents a momentous opportunity lay the foundation for a healthier, more just and equitable world for future generations, “pointed out Edward Bailor and continued on by stressing that “to achieve this requires an uninterrupted access to live long treatment, strong and flexible health and community system that are responsive to the need of people with HIV.”
The NETHIPS M&E Officer underscored the dangers Sierra Leoneans and people living in the country are exposed to for refusing to take HIV Tests. Bailor claims that most people are refraining to take the test because they fear that, when proved medically to be positive, their status would be disclosed. And since most community members shun HIV/AIDS victims, most of those been tested positive are failing to show up for their free and routine treatments.
“As a result of these features the disease remains to be a danger and liable to cause Sierra Leone unable to end the AIDS endemic by 2030,” he warned and called on the media to join the campaign to reverse this trend.
In his contribution the NETHIPS Regional Coordinator-South, Musa Ansumana disclosed that to bring an end to behaviors that are scaring people from coming for HIV/AIDS tests and treatments, the government in collaboration with NETHIPS and Therapeutic Solidarity and Initiative for Health (SOLTHIS) and funding from French Agency for Development (afd) has formulated, printed and passed into law the HIV/AIDS Patient Right Charter.
Musa Ansumana explained that the Charter covers areas including Testing, Consent to HIV Test, Disclosure of Information, Access to Healthcare Services, Prevention of HIV Transmission, and Discrimination among others.
“The Charter gives every patient or client rights and responsibilities,” stated Ansumana.
“Any person who contravenes any of these rights and responsibilities commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding twenty million Leones (Le 20, 000,000.00) or to a term of imprisonment not less than five years or to both the fine and imprisonment,” disclosed Ansumana.
Making a statement on behalf of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ) was Alie Badara who welcomed the Charter and assured the government and the HIV/AIDS campaigners of the media’s commitment to spread the good news.