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25th June 2018

Hugh Fines on those Caught Exposing HIV/AIDS Patients in Sierra Leone!

By Momoja N. Lappia (16/11/17)

The Sierra Leone government is working with stakeholders to impose a huge fine on anyone found exposing patients with HIV/AIDS.


Being that HIV/AIDS is posing serious threats in post-Ebola Sierra Leone, the government will punish individuals or institutions found ostracising or disclosing the health status of people suffering from the deadly HIV disease. (Photo: Sierra Leone Health Minister Abubakarr Fofanah).


Reports say the government of Sierra Leone has agreed to impose a fine of twenty million Leones (Le 20,000,000.00) on defaulters, thanks largely to the newly enacted HIV/AIDS Patients Right Charter.


This was disclosed on October 19, 2017 by the executives of the Network of HIV Positive in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS) during a one-day workshop for journalists at the Growth Centre Conference Hall Tikonko Road in Bo City, southern SierraLeone.


The workshop was aimed at training media practitioners on contemporary constraints that campaigners face in eradicating HIV/AIDS. And also succeed in establishing concrete collaboration with the journalists in sensitising susceptible community members on the dangers of ostracising people suffering from the sickness as well as making them believe 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 the sensitisation of both HIV 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 that lays the foundation for a healthier, more just and equitable world for future generations," pointed Edward Bailor.


He stressed: "To achieve this requires an uninterrupted access to live long treatment, strong and flexible health and community systems that are responsive to the needs 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 of being proven medically HIV positive.


They fear 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 behaviours that are scaring people from coming for HIV/AIDS tests and treatments, the government and NETHIPS and Therapeutic Solidarity and Initiative for Health (SOLTHIS) and funding from French Agency for Development (afd) have 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. 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.   


Courtesy: By Momoja N. Lappia in Bo, The Calabash Newspaper


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