Dr. Rick Sacra’s 160 miles Bike Ride to Help Fight HIV/AIDS in Liberia

Dr. Rick Sacra. photo courtesy: Worcester Telegram

Dr. Rick Sacra. photo courtesy: Worcester Telegram

Dr. Rick Sacra knew he wanted to raise funds to support the HIV/AIDS program at ELWA Hospital in Paynesville, Liberia. But the question of “how” did not seems to come to mind easily.

“One day after a long bike ride I thought I could do the same to create awareness and raise funds for the HIV/AIDS project,” Dr. Sacra said in a conversation recently.

He then began planning, networking with friends at routes his ride will cover.

Now Dr. Sacra will formally launch the “Dr. Sacra Ride” with a presentation that will cover the status of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Liberia. The program takes place at the Evangel Assembly of God Church on Stony Hill Road in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, starting at 7:00 pm.

Then on early Friday September 9th, Dr. Sacra will begin his one man ride from Indian Orchard in Springfield, MA, to Wayland, MA. The next day on Saturday, Dr. Sacra will continue his ride from Wayland to Lowell, MA. In Lowell, he will make presentation on the status of HIV/AIDS. The last leg of the Ride will be on Sunday, when he continues his ride to Worcester.

“I know the idea is crazy,” Dr. Sacra once joked about his ride, “But I will make it.” He says it’s likely that some friends of his will join him in the second and third legs of his ride. Dr. Sacra would have covered a distance of 160 miles by the time he completes his ride.

The first case of HIV/AIDS was diagnosed in Liberia in 1986, in the North West part of the country. The disease has since remained a public health challenge, with more infection rate in urban than rural areas.

Local and international efforts focused on public education to contain its spread. However, the interruption of social and economic development in Liberia between 1989 and 2004 by largely inter-tribal war ignited by Charles Taylor, saw an increase in AIDS cases in the West African state.

As peace returns to the country, ELWA Hospital restarted the AIDS prevention and treatment program.

“One out of every 24 women, mostly pregnant women who come for treatment have HIV,” the doctor said. “The problem is many of the infected patients do not know if they have the disease.” Diagnosis is usually done during start of regular visit to the maternity clinic.

When Ebola struck in the country and overshadowed all other diseases, the outbreak overwhelmed the meager resources available to the health sector. It would not be too long when Dr. Sacra, who had gone to Liberia to give break to another medical missionary, was diagnosed with Ebola virus.

Like the two previous medical missionaries infected with Ebola, Dr. Sacra was flown in a special plane to a Nebraska Hospital, in the US, where he was treated.

Sacra currently lives in Holden, MA, with his wife Debbie and children. He visits Liberia to work at ELWA Hospital several weeks at a time.

He hopes to raise sufficien t funds to cover the $60,000.00 project.


Filed in: Features

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