August 6, 2018
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Plans by the Sierra Leone Ports Authority to auction a container loaded with HIV/AIDs, Malaria and Tuberculosis drugs was thwarted last week after lawmakers reached a resolution for the drugs to be released immediately and distributed to various health centres across the country
The consignment of drugs, donated to Sierra Leone by Global Fund, was being held at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay as the relevant authorities failed to pay de-mortgage fees amounting to Le155million.
The motion, which was moved by Leader of Government Business Hon. Mohamed Sidie Tunis and seconded by Leader of the opposition All Peoples Congress, Hon. Chernoh Maju Bah, came after the National AIDS Secretariat, through Legal Aid Board, complained to the Committees on Health, Legislative and Human Rights about the drugs seizure at the Quay.
Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma, initially championed the resolution after he was a notice in one of the local tabloids last Wednesday that a ‘Shipping Company CMA/CGM wanted to auction HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria drugs donated to the country by Global Fund.’
Hon. Koroma said: “HIV/AIDS becomes more dangerous when someone is tested positive and doesn’t have access to the required drugs. If those infected take their drugs regularly it will help them to live long. But where are the drugs if people decide to go for the test and are confirmed positive? Now that the country is having free gift of such drugs, the goods cannot reach the final consumers if they are held at the quay.”
Also, Hon. Koroma said malaria is the worst disease in the world and the country was lucky to have expensive drugs donated as gift.
A recent survey shows that 51,000 of Sierra Leone’s seven million population live with HIV/AIDS across the country, with 24,000 receiving treatment.
The lawmakers maintained that the HIV virus pose a significant threat to the national population, thus their decision to support the NAS secretariat to secure duty waiver for the donated drugs.
Chief Whip of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party, Hon. Dickson Rogers, said he contacted the General Manager of the Port and Bollore who told him a number of documentation were yet to be completed before the container is released from the quay.
After contributions from other MPs, Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass C. Bundu cautioned both the management of Port Authority and Bollore to note that the House has unanimously canceled the proposed auction.