Hunger com­pro­mis­ing fight against HIV: Min­is­ter

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

THE Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, Kimetso Mathaba said high food in­se­cu­rity was af­fect­ing the coun­try’s ef­forts to achieve an Hiv-free so­ci­ety by 2030 through the Test and Treat strat­egy.

Mr Mathaba said this on the side­lines of the Na­tional AIDS Com­mis­sion (NAC) board of direc­tors’ re­treat in Ha Mo­hale on Tues­day.

“Test and Treat is a chal­lenge. When the Prime Min­is­ter launched this pol­icy, he said some­one once ar­gued that tak­ing medicine on an empty stom­ach would be com­mit­ting sui­cide,” Mr Mathaba said.

“This is not a mi­nor is­sue. We have told our devel­op­ment part­ners that we face a huge chal­lenge in that peo­ple un­der HIV treat­ment are food in­se­cure and must be given food parcels.

“We are do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure that peo­ple are food se­cure be­cause if left unat­tended, this could com­pro­mise our test and treat pol­icy as peo­ple will take med­i­ca­tion on empty stom­achs,” he said.

The three-day re­treat, fa­cil­i­tated by Kenyan ex­pert Si­mon Micheru, seeks to fa­mil­iarise the NAC board mem­bers with the com­mis­sion’s le­gal frame­work and pol­icy.

Mr Mathaba said it was an op­por­tu­nity for the board mem­bers and man­age­ment to en­gage in ex­ten­sive di­a­logue and ap­pre­ci­ate the na­tional multi-sec­toral HIV and AIDS re­sponse.

“The board and man­age­ment will dis­cuss the post 2015 HIV and AIDS agenda and the im­pli­ca­tions for Le­sotho.

“NAC was given a man­date by His Majesty through the gov­ern­ment to lead the coun­try in in­ten­si­fy­ing the fight against HIV and AIDS. Le­sotho should and shall win the war to be an Aids-free coun­try by 2030,” Mr Mathaba said.

He also said it was a well-known fact that HIV and AIDS were the big­gest en­emy par­tic­u­larly in sub-sa­ha­ran Africa.

“Le­sotho is sec­ond in the world with an Hiv-preva­lence rate of 23 per­cent cou­pled with Hiv/tu­ber­cu­lo­sis co-in­fec­tion rates (at) 74 per­cent.

“Al­though the gov­ern­ment took mea­sures to ar­rest the sit­u­a­tion, the coun­try ex­peri- enced 17 000 new in­fec­tions and 3700 deaths in 2014. In 2015 the coun­try had 337 000 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV with only 127 000 on treat­ment,” Mr Mathaba said.

He said this forced gov­ern­ment to change its poli­cies and strate­gies so “it is no longer busi­ness as usual. Now we test and treat.”

The min­is­ter added gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to leav­ing no one be­hind, adding there should be zero-dis­crim­i­na­tion in the pro­vi­sion of HIV and AIDS ser­vices.

Tar­get groups in­clude chil­dren, the el­derly, chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties, sex work­ers, gays and les­bians, ado­les­cents and young sin­gle moth­ers.

“The bot­tom line is preven­tion in­ter­ven­tions should be for ev­ery Mosotho and ac­cess to medicines and ther­apy should be sus­tain­able and avail­able to ev­ery­one,” he said.

He said the com­mis­sion had the le­gal au­thor­ity to co­or­di­nate all stake­hold­ers deal­ing with HIV and AIDS to en­able them to work to­wards the same vi­sion, mis­sion, goals, tar­gets and in­di­ca­tions.

The min­is­ter fur­ther said it was crit­i­cal that all stake­hold­ers sup­ported the com­mis­sion in ex­e­cut­ing its man­date to co­or­di­nate HIV and AIDS ef­forts.

“It would be remise of me not to ac­knowl­edge our part­ners who have walked this long and dif­fi­cult jour­ney of HIV and AIDS man­age­ment with us. You are in­deed valu­able part­ners.

“I ap­peal for your con­tin­ued sup­port be­cause the road ahead is still long, thorny and slip­pery with dan­ger­ous curves and steep slopes. How­ever, there is light at the end of the tun­nel and with your sup­port we will reach the 90-90-90 tar­gets and be­yond.

“You have been trusted to lead this coun­try to fast-track na­tional ini­tia­tives and co­or­di­nate pro­cesses that will turn things around so that TB, HIV and Aids are man­aged to ex­tinc­tion,” Mr Mathaba said.

In terms of the 90-90-90 tar­gets, it is en­vis­aged that by 2020, 90 per­cent of all peo­ple liv­ing with HIV will know their HIV sta­tus. It is also ex­pected that 90 per­cent of all peo­ple di­ag­nosed with HIV will re­ceive sus­tained an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy and 90 per­cent of all peo­ple re­ceiv­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy will have vi­ral suppression by then.

Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice Kimetso Mathaba

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.