Seka­tle preaches be­havioural change to com­bat HIV

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

LO­CAL Govern­ment and Chief­tain­ship min­is­ter Pon­tšo ’ ma­tumelo Seka­tle has ap­pealed to all Ba­sotho to heed govern­ment’s call for “se­ri­ous” be­havioural change in or­der to curb the spread of HIV — the virus which causes the in­cur­able AIDS.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Le­sotho Times on monday this week, Dr Seka­tle said the seven-party coali­tion govern­ment led by Dr Pakalitha mo­sisili, was con­cerned about Le­sotho’s high Hiv-preva­lence rate of 23 per­cent which is the sec­ond-high­est in the world be­hind Swazi­land’s 26 per­cent.

Un­til 2013, Le­sotho was at num­ber three but has since swapped places with Botswana on the in­fa­mous in­dex of the virus.

Dr Seka­tle said: “It has re­ally wor­ried the cur­rent govern­ment, through all its min­istries and de­part­ments, that the pan­demic of HIV/AIDS and TB as well, con­tinue to spread alarm­ingly among our peo­ple. It is as if Ba­sotho no longer fear HIV.

“I think the in­tro­duc­tion of an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs has made us re­lax and that’s dan­ger­ous be­cause this med­i­ca­tion does not ei­ther cure the dis­ease or pre­vent it from spread- ing.

“The way I see things, that is the gen­eral per­cep­tion. But Ba­sotho need to re­alise that the med­i­ca­tion is only meant to boost the im­mune sys­tem so that if the per­son is HIV­pos­i­tive, he or she can at least live longer with the dis­ease and pre­vent­ing that per­son from speed­ily reach­ing the crit­i­cal stage of AIDS.”

Dr Seka­tle, who is also pres­i­dent of the Demo­cratic Congress Women’s League (DCWL), fur­ther ex­pressed con­cern at “prob­lems brought by the pan­demic’s preva­lence, par­tic­u­larly on women of this coun­try”.

many Ba­sotho suf­fer ten­sion­re­lated ill­nesses due to HIV/AIDS, she noted, adding “the pinch of pain is mostly felt by moth­ers as they are fam­ily pil­lars in most cases.”

The so­lu­tion to the un­re­lent­ing pan­demic, ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, is dras­tic change in sex­ual be­hav­iour.

“It is only wise that this change be­gins in fam­i­lies be­cause that is where the na­tion starts. The na­tion is built through fam­i­lies. I think that is where we should re­ally fo­cus our at­ten­tion on as all rel­e­vant in­sti­tu­tions. We should go back to in­still­ing the ABC (Ab­stain, Be Faith­ful and Con­domise) pol­icy among fam­i­lies,” Dr Seka­tle said.

“Ba­sotho should be sen­si­tised on the im­por­tance of ab­sten­tion from sex­ual ac­tiv­ity be­fore mar­riage; be­ing faith­ful to one part­ner where peo­ple are mar­ried and us­ing con­dom pro­tec­tion where nec­es­sary. The good thing about HIV/AIDS is that un­like other deadly dis­eases, we can pre­vent its spread if we sim­ply choose to change our sex­ual be­hav­iour.”

mean­while, Dr Seka­tle, who led the DCWL’S African Women cel­e­bra­tion in Berea last Satur­day, said the oc­ca­sion was themed ‘em­pow­er­ing Women Against HIV/AIDS, Gen­der Based Vi­o­lence and In­her­i­tance Based Dis­crim­i­na­tion Against Women and Girls’, be­cause of govern­ment’s grave con­cern about its fe­male pop­u­la­tion.

“most women and girls con­tinue to be at the re­ceiv­ing end re­gard­ing gen­der-based vi­o­lence. In­deed, there are a few cases of males be­ing vic­tims. But mostly, we hear about cases of women and girls be­ing raped, as­saulted, and ha­rassed emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially, among other dis­turb­ing re­ports.

“The same goes with the is­sue of in­her­i­tance where even our laws dis­crim­i­nate against women and girls. The Chief­tain­ship Act of 1968, which still con­trols the suc­ces­sion of chiefs, also side­lines girl-chil­dren from suc­ces­sion. It is un­ac­cept­able in this day and age to keep prac­tis­ing such un­for­tu­nate tra­di­tions which dis­ad­van­tage women and girls.

“As the Chief­tain­ship Af­fairs min­is­ter, I am deeply dis­turbed by some cases I have as ex­am­ples of this dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“As a mat­ter of fact, we hope, in this very 9th Par­lia­ment, to in­vite all rel­e­vant in­sti­tu­tions to take part as the govern­ment en­gages in con­sti­tu­tional re­forms to iron out these is­sues, among other things.”

As part of the govern­ment’s ini­tia­tive to ad­dress the is­sue of HIV/ AIDS, Dr Seka­tle said the au­thor­i­ties were look­ing at how best the now-de­funct na­tional Aids Com­mis­sion, “or a body of a sim­i­lar na­ture” could be es­tab­lished as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

Lo­cal Govern­ment and chief­tain­ship min­is­ter Pon­tšo ’ma­tumelo Seka­tle

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