Civil society meeting assesses HIV/ Aids fight
THE Lesotho council of Non-governmental organisations (LCN) yesterday held a civil Society organisations (csos) stakeholders meeting, under the auspices of its Health Advocacy Forum, to assess civil society’s impact in the fight against HIV/ Aids ahead of World Aids Day commemorations on Monday.
Held under the theme “Assessing the impact of civic society on HIV and AIDS in Lesotho”, the objectives of the meeting were to record the key challenges csos encountered and assess their contribution to the HIV and AIDS agenda from 2010 to 2014.
LCN Health and Social Development Commission Officer, Mamathule Makhotla, said the meeting sought to identify key strategies to enhance csos’ contribution to national response efforts and develop a charter on HIV and AIDS.
“The meeting was also meant to ensure the Health Advocacy Forum supports and adopts the 20/20 global campaign initiated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), in having 20 million people on treatment by the year 2020,” Ms Makhotla said.
She added that Lcn’s Health and Social Development commission established the cso Health Advocacy Forum in January 2014 in a bid to strengthen their advocacy efforts on health specific issues.
It was also meant to enhance coordination and collaboration among csos working on health and HIV/AIDS in order to support high quality service delivery and an effective national response.
Pact Lesotho Senior Programs Officer, Bakuena chele, said the cso Health Advocacy Forum can be strengthened to increase coordination and advocacy.
Mr chele said the formative steps were agreed with the cso Health Advocacy Forum planning team for the convening of the first HIV programming multi-stakeholder meeting ahead of World Aids Day commemorations which will be led by King Letsie III in Thaba-bosiu on Monday.
During the meeting, various Ngos such as Lesotho National Federation of organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) and MATRIX Support Group among others, highlighted the challenges and achievements made in their efforts to fight HIV and AIDS.
According to LNFOD Projects coordinator, rabasotho Moeletsi, 3.7 percent of Lesotho’s population consists of people living with disabilities and their intersection with HIV/AIDS kept increasing despite the little attention it receives.
Mr Moeletsi said the National Strategic Plan (NSP) does not encompass people with disabilities thereby rendering them “invisible”.
“There is no data on the incidence and prevalence of HIV and AIDS among people with disabilities, and no data on the impact of HIV and AIDS on people living with HIV,” said Mr Moeletsi.
“There is also a dearth of HIV education material in accessible formats, especially for the deaf and visually impaired.”
However, Mr Moeletsi revealed that some responsive measures had already been taken such as sign language training for staff to communicate with deaf clients and adapting their information education and communication (Iec) materials for Braille.
on his part, MATRIX Support group representative, Ariel Poko, said their limited capacity and resources restrict their HIV/AIDS prevention interventions to their members only since they depend on other organisations for such equipment as vehicles and storerooms.
“When we have to deliver condoms or lubricants to our minority group we have to go and seek for assistance elsewhere which is not convenient at times,” Mr Poko said.