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HIV drugs for children in Sierra Leone

Dr Philip L Ambulai are raising money for Mini's Village Foundation


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Our story

Mini’s Village Foundation (MVF) is a UK-registered charity, focusing on HIV and
hepatitis B (HBV) healthcare and education in the West African country of Sierra
Leone, currently one of the least developed nations in the world.
Medical services are vestigial as a result of civil war, the after-effects of the Ebola
epidemic of 2014 and years of mismanagement. These factors, combined with
high prevalence rates have led to HIV/AIDS and HBV being two of the largest and
most preventable causes of death in the country. However, the associated stigma
has led to healthcare avoidance in the population, where literacy rates are low and
education is poor.
The central aim of MVF is to provide ongoing healthcare, free at source, for HIV-
positive and HBV-positive people. To achieve this, a dedicated clinic will be built
in an easily accessible location, Lungi, for maximal access to the affected
population. The clinic will first provide a confidential test-and-treat programmed
for both conditions, initially with point-of-care testing and the dispensing of
antiviral medicines, including Tenofovir, an antiviral drug that treats both HIV and
HBV.
As these viruses are often contracted at birth, antenatal and post-natal care will
be provided. A “birth dose” HBV vaccine schedule will be developed, together with
a community outreach programmed led by trained lay workers. To reach all
segments of society, including the illiterate, the clinic development will be
accompanied by an educational podcast programmed in English and Krio to inform
and reduce stigma.
In later phases of development, the clinic will have a fully equipped diagnostic
laboratory, a dispensing pharmacy and ultrasound screening for HBV-related liver
cancer. Ultimately, MVF aims to roll out the clinic model, combined with
community outreach and education at key points across the country.
The country has a mixed and generalised HIV epidemic, with a prevalence of 1.7%.
The 2019 Demographic and Health Survey (SLDHS, 2019) indicates that HIV
prevalence is higher in urban areas than in rural areas (2.3% versus 1.2%). However,
there are indications that the incidence may be increasing and unless addressed
urgently, it has the potential to deteriorate into a major public health emergency.
Although there is some degree of HIV awareness among adults, uptake of
voluntary HIV testing has remained low (<30%). Tragically, under one third (29%)
of the country’s 60,000 people living with HIV/AIDS were on antiretroviral therapy
in 2015.
In 2019, a WHO report suggested that over 32,438 people in Sierra Leone living
with HIV/AIDS accessed highly active anti-retroviral treatment (HAART), while
4,129 pregnant women received HAART to reduce the risk of mother to child
transmission of HIV/AIDS.
HBV is also a major health problem in West Africa and in Sierra Leone in particular.
The prevalence rate is estimated at 13% (one of the highest in the world). Apart
from sexual transmission, most HBV-positive people acquire the virus at birth
from their mothers or in early childhood. However, with increasing drug usage,
infection through shared needles is an increasing problem, reaching epidemic
proportions in some areas of the country. The virus is also easily contracted
through poorly sterilized medical equipment in hospitals and clinics. Apart from
causing hepatitis, a major cause of death in Sierra Leone is hepatitis B-related liver
cancer – one of the commonest causes of death amongst young men in the
country. HBV is preventable if vaccines are given immediately after babies are

 We are appeal to the general public to donate whatever the have to support children with HIV.


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Dr Philip L Ambulai are fundraising for

Mini's Village Foundation

Charity number: 1205457

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