Know your HIV sta­tus: Queen

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

LE­SOTHO joined the rest of the globe on Tues­day in mark­ing World Aids Day at the Bay­lor Col­lege of Medicine Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion in Maseru.

The com­mem­o­ra­tions were held un­der the theme “End­ing Aids: To­wards Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment”, while the global theme was “Get­ting to zero: End Aids by 2030”. World Aids Day is marked an­nu­ally on 1 De­cem­ber to raise aware­ness about the deadly dis­ease.

Among the dig­ni­taries in at­ten­dance was Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, min­is­ters, prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries and di­plo­mats.

In her ad­dress, Queen ‘ Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Seeiso urged the pub­lic to go to health cen­tres and get tested so they know their HIV sta­tus and avoid spread­ing it to their part­ners.

Her Majesty also called on stake­hold­ers to re­dou­ble ef­forts to turn the tide against the preva­lence of the pan­demic in Le­sotho. The Moun­tain King­dom’s Hiv-preva­lence of 23 per­cent is the se­cond high­est in the world be­hind Swazi­land’s 26 per­cent.

“We have re­gressed in the fight against HIV and AIDS, so let us hold hands as the pub­lic, govern­ment, de­vel­op­ment part­ners and civil so­ci­ety to fight this lethal dis­ease. I ap­peal to you to visit health cen­tres to know your sta­tus,” Queen ‘Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Seeiso said.

She also im­plored preg­nant women to seek treat­ment and med­i­cal ad­vice to pre­vent mother-to-child trans­mis­sion of HIV.

“We have sup­ple­mented this year’s theme with ‘Treat a Child, Sus­tain a Na­tion,’” Her Majesty said.

“The sup­ple­men­tary theme was coined fol­low­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion that par­ents were still hes­i­tant to take their chil­dren to health cen­tres where they can get help.”

Health Min­is­ter, Dr Molotsi Monya­mane, said govern­ment was com­mit­ted to fight­ing the pan­demic.

“His Majesty King Let­sie III showed us the way in the Speech from the Throne when open­ing par­lia­ment early this year, and Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili also made a com­mit­ment to fight HIV/AIDS dur­ing his speech to en­dorse the Sus­tain­able De­velop- ment Goals in Septem­ber,” he said, adding that the min­istry was work­ing on de­cen­tral­is­ing its op­er­a­tions to reach as many peo­ple in­fected and af­fected by the dis­ease as pos­si­ble.

In his re­marks, United States Am­bas­sador, Mathew Har­ring­ton, com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the num­ber of peo­ple on anti-retro­vi­ral treat­ment (ART) in Le­sotho.

“To­day, 7 600 Hiv-pos­i­tive Ba­sotho chil­dren are on life-sav­ing anti-retro­vi­ral treat­ment. We aim to in­crease that num­ber sig­nif­i­cantly by this time next year,” he said.

“Based on sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in HIV test­ing rates, we ex­pect Le­sotho will be able to re­port mean­ing­ful progress once the fi­nal re­sults of the 2014 De­mo­graphic Health Sur­vey be­come avail­able.”

Mr Har­ring­ton added: “The pre­lim­i­nary re­port from that sur­vey in­di­cates that 85 per­cent of Ba­sotho have been tested at least once, up from 68.8 per­cent in 2009.

“Fur­ther­more, 58 per­cent of Ba­sotho were tested in the past year, up from 42 per­cent in 2009. As more Ba­sotho get tested more of­ten, more Hiv-pos­i­tive Ba­sotho will know their sta­tus.”

below the age of 18.

She said the strat­egy was also aligned with the re­cently ap­proved Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals whose ob­jec­tives are to end poverty, pro­tect the planet, and en­sure pros­per­ity for all.

Out­lin­ing WVL’S achieve­ments over the last three years, Ms Okumu said 72 248 boys and girls ben­e­fited from such projects as con­struc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of schools, es­tab­lish­ment of li­braries, bur­saries and learn­ing ma­te­ri­als among oth­ers.

“Th­ese ef­forts not only led to an in­crease in the pro­por­tion of chil­dren en­rolled in schools, but also im­proved per­for­mance,” she said.

“In spite of th­ese ef­forts, we still have gaps that re­quire to be ad­dressed such as the fact that only

65.5 per­cent of pupils reach the last grade of pri­mary school (sev­enth year) and qual­i­fied teacher to pupil ra­tio is 1:50 as com­pared to the coun­try stan­dard of 1:40.”

WVL’S pri­or­ity in­ter­ven­tions in the education sec­tor, Ms Okumu noted, would in­clude im­prov­ing ac­cess to read­ing and learn­ing ma­te­ri­als in schools, train­ing teach­ers on in­clu­sive education to im­prove func­tional lit­er­acy of vul­ner­a­ble groups such as herd boys.

In the health sec­tor, she said the hu­man­i­tar­ian aid or­gan­i­sa­tion had man­aged to re­duce stunt­ing from 39 per­cent to 35 per­cent and in­creased cov­er­age of es­sen­tial vac­cines among chil­dren from 63

Con­tin­ued on page 22. . .

Queen ‘Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Seeiso.

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