Min­is­ter warns HIV cure ‘doc­tors’

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

HEALTH Min­is­ter, Molotsi Monya­mane, has called on herbal­ists claim­ing to have the cure for HIV/AIDS to stop forth­with, say­ing they are set­ting back the progress made in fight­ing the pan­demic.

Dr Monya­mane made the re­marks at a press con­fer­ence, in Maseru on Mon­day, fol­low­ing the flight­ing of ad­ver­tise­ments in the me­dia by herbal­ists claim­ing to have found the cure for HIV/AIDS and urg­ing the public to con­sult them.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, who is also a med­i­cal doc­tor, the ad­ver­tise­ments were “danger­ous” as they urged HIV/AIDS pa­tients to take sup­ple­ments in­stead of an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment.

“Some peo­ple have stopped tak­ing their an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment af­ter ac­cept­ing as true claims made on the ad­verts that sup­ple- ments from cer­tain doc­tors are bet­ter than an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment,” said Dr Monya­mane.

“This has re­sulted in a marked de­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple who take an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment, a very sad­den­ing and danger­ous devel­op­ment con­sid­er­ing the long 31-year jour­ney we have come in try­ing to de­feat the dis­eases.”

He said the health prac­ti­tion­ers mak­ing such claims were im­ped­ing the strate­gies im­ple­mented and progress made for years in fight­ing the dis­ease.

“As the Min­istry of Health, we say the claims made by such doc­tors have no ba­sis and are wrong.

“They have to come to an end as soon as pos­si­ble to pro­tect the public to whose lives we have been en­trusted,” Dr Monya­mane said.

He added that the min­istry had al­ready started tak­ing ac­tion against the “doc­tors” since they had con­tin­ued to dis­sem­i­nate their claims de­spite be­ing or­dered to stop.

The min­is­ter said they were en­gag­ing com­mu­nity health work­ers and chiefs to warn peo­ple in the lo­cal­i­ties about the false ad­ver­tise­ments.

“We have also dis­trib­uted in­for­ma­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ma­te­rial which stresses the im­por­tance of an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment in the sur­vival of HIV/AIDS pa­tients in health cen­tres across the coun­try,” he said.

Dr Monya­mane said in yesteryears, the rate of new in­fec­tions among Ba­sotho was slowly de­clin­ing un­til this year where statis­tics show an up­ward swing.

“Although pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of HIV and AIDS con­tin­ues, about 72 Ba­sotho get new in­fec­tions daily,” he said.

“Be­cause HIV has no cure, the Min­istry of Health en­cour­ages those who are al­ready on an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment to con­tinue to take their med­i­ca­tion and fol­low in­struc- tions from health prac­ti­tion­ers.

“They should also en­gage in pro­tected sex with the youth avoid­ing sex be­fore mar­riage to curb the fur­ther preva­lence of the virus.”

He said the min­istry had been re­ceiv­ing re­ports from health prac­ti­tion­ers that, for the last three months, some pa­tients had stopped col­lect­ing their an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment at health cen­tres.

“It is sad­den­ing to hear such news es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing Le­sotho is num­ber two in the world in terms of HIV/AIDS preva­lence,” the min­is­ter noted.

Le­sotho’s Hiv-preva­lence rate has re­mained stag­nant at 23 per­cent but leapfrogged Botswana into sec­ond po­si­tion be­cause of the lat­ter’s suc­cesses in low­er­ing its preva­lence rate from the pre­vi­ous 24.8 per­cent. Swazi­land’s Hiv-preva­lence is 26 per­cent.

Mean­while, the Le­sotho Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion ( LMA) also re­leased a state­ment ex­press­ing con­cern about the con­tin­ued high HIV/ AIDS preva­lence in Le­sotho.

Read the state­ment: “The fact that Le­sotho ranks in the top three of the worst HIV and AIDS af­fected coun­tries is a ma­jor con­cern to the Min­istry of Health as a cus­to­dian of health, the med­i­cal fra­ter­nity and all pro­fes­sion­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions deal­ing with this dread­ful dis­ease.

“The LMA hereby ap­peals to all Ba­sotho, es­pe­cially those that are al­ready on an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment to con­tinue to be pre­served by sci­en­tif­i­cally-proven reme­dies and im­mune boost­ers.

“Drug re­sis­tance is a se­ri­ous mat­ter which can do great harm not only to the in­di­vid­ual af­fected but to the na­tion.”

The LMA also ap­pealed to the public to dis­cuss, with a doc­tor or qual­i­fied health provider, the mer­its of any prod­uct given to them as an al­ter­na­tive to an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment.

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