A letter from Dr. Magueye Ba
I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I am writing to you today with a sense of urgency and excitement, as we embark on a new journey to combat HIV/AIDS and bolster public health in Senegal. As a doctor with clinics in three rural villages I noticed an alarming trend in our area: increasing rates of HIV and less understanding of the disease than existed in years past. Tambacounda has the sad distinction of being in the top three regions for HIV rates and the other two are the surrounding regions, meaning that the disease is growing all around us.
When I first brought my concerns to the rest of the members of Le Korsa, they immediately jumped into action. They assembled a team of staff and volunteers, including myself, to better understand the problems we were facing and to come up with ideas about how to help. After discussions with the Ministry of Health, local leadership, medical experts, and community organizers, I am thrilled to announce
the launch of our new HIV Education Program, aimed at spreading vital information about HIV and AIDS and providing essential support to those affected by this epidemic.
One of the challenges we face in this fight against HIV is the reduction in funding, particularly after the introduction of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). (PreP), an oral medicine that is highly effective in preventing HIV, has undoubtedly been a game-changer in HIV prevention. But it has unintentionally diverted funds from crucial education and support programs. And while PrEP has changed the course of the epidemic in developed countries such as the United States and France, its availability is limited on the continent of Africa. Education, testing, treatment, and support services all remain essential components in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Our HIV Education Program in Senegal aims to bridge this funding gap and ensure that comprehensive HIV education and support initiatives are still at the forefront of the response. We believe in a multi-faceted approach, and the program will focus on:
—Public Awareness and Education: Le Korsa will conduct educational campaigns at Thread several times per year, where I will speak about HIV, answer people’s questions, and testing and condoms will be available. In addition, I will work in partnership with Dr. Juliette Faye, head of Le Korsa’s Keur Djiguene Yi Women’s Health Clinic, to offer specialized education for pregnant women, including encouraging them to take advantage of access to government-provided medicine that will prevent transmission from mother to child.
—Stigma Reduction: We are committed to reducing the stigma and discrimination that often hinders people from seeking HIV testing, treatment, and support. By working with the Tambacounda Adolescent Center throughout the year and hosting annual events on International World AIDS Day, we hope to remind youth that it’s okay to talk about HIV and access treatment while dispelling dangerous myths about the virus.
—Support Services: At Tambacounda Hospital, we will continue to fund programs for those affected by HIV, including access to testing, counseling, and support groups. Our partnership with the social services department was highlighted during our Giving Tuesday Campaign where we raised money to renovate a room specifically for this purpose, making it a warm and engaging space for children affected by HIV.
—Prevention and Community Call to Action: Engaging local communities is vital. At the Foyer de Jeunes Filles, we will be training some young women to be youth ambassadors for HIV prevention and awareness. They will conduct educational outreach in schools and in their villages to help educate students about HIV and will work with community leaders to ensure the messages reach the broader population.
To make our vision a reality, we are seeking your support. We understand that times are tough, but your contribution, no matter how big or small, can make a significant difference. Every dollar donated will go towards creating a more informed and resilient Senegal, free from the burden of HIV/AIDS.
Together, we can create a brighter future for Senegal, one where HIV/AIDS is no longer a threat to the communities we have come to know and love. Your support is not just an investment in public health but a commitment to the well-being of the people of Senegal.
To donate or learn more about our program, click here or contact us at email@example.com.
Dr. Magueye Ba
Medical Advisor to Le Korsa