By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a well-attended ceremony held on Friday 15th December, 2023 at the Freetown Teachers College at Jui, Western Rural District, the Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL),an institution that works on a range of serious sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues to improve people’s health and quality of life in the country, has joined the National AIDS Secretariat under the Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners to commemorate World AIDS Day 2023 on the theme: “Let Communities Lead.”
During an interview with Samuel Yemeh Koroma, the Youth and Communications Officer for PPASL, he expressed the Association’s satisfaction in joining the global community to mark World AIDS Day. He emphasized the importance of the annual December 1st commemoration as an opportunity to reflect on progress, raise awareness about ongoing challenges and mobilize stakeholders for a collective effort to end AIDS.
Samuel Yemeh Koroma noted that PPASL, known for its work in addressing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, provides services such as family planning and other SRH services across eight districts in Sierra Leone, including Western Urban & Rural, Bombali, Port Loko, Karene, Kenema, Bo, among others.
He revealed that during the commemoration ceremony, PPASL set up a booth to provide services to participants, including sensitization on the importance of HIV testing and condom usage, furthering that the booth also distributed condoms to those who engaged with PPASL’s offerings.
Samuel Yemeh Koroma acknowledged the support of the International Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone, expressing gratitude for their assistance in making the commemoration possible.
As part of the commemorative activities, he encouraged everyone to visit the nearest health facility for HIV and AIDS testing, which he described as a crucial step to knowing one’s status. Additionally, the Youth and Communications Officer urged everyone to prioritize condom usage during sexual intercourse, emphasizing its role in preventing both sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
Fatmata Sesay, one of the participants, commended Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL) for their contributions towards the commemoration of the day. She added that the Association has been supporting the improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues in the country.
She said that during the course of the commemoration, she had the opportunity to visit Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL) booth and she benefited from the sensitization of the importance of testing and the importance of using condoms.
“Today I have learnt a lot and I hope to take the knowledge I have acquired to my community and also educate my colleagues especially on the importance of testing and the use of condoms during sexual intercourse,” she expressed optimism.
The ceremony also witnessed the distribution of condoms to participants by the Association and featured statements from other stakeholders, including NGO partners working on HIV/AIDS, the Executive Director of the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone and the Deputy Minister of Health 1.