US govt pumps M2m in HIV fight

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

the United states gov­ern­ment, through its Us Pres­i­dent’s emer­gency Plan for AIDS Re­lief (PEPFAR), on tues­day awarded eight lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions with grants worth $142 000 (about M2 mil­lion) at the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Maseru.

the PEPFAR small Grants pro­gramme caters for com­mu­nity-ini­ti­ated projects which aim to strengthen health ser­vice de­liv­ery in com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by HIV/AIDS.IT sup­ports com­mu­nity groups which sup­port or­phans and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren (OVC) and com­mu­nity-based HIV/ AIDS care ini­tia­tives.

The ben­e­fi­cia­ries in­clude Fal­ime­hang ha Mot­lokoa sup­port Group from Leribe which re­ceived $15 300, Ikhetheng Basali sup­port Group from Berea ($8 000), Mo­hat­lane Com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre from Berea ($22 540), Nalane from Maseru ($25 000), the spe­cial sup­port Group from Leribe ($19 500), thu­sanang Boph­e­long sup­port Group from Leribe ($22 900), ti­iset­sang sup­port Group from Mo­hale’s hoek ($18 300) and Young Mat­sekha Against AIDS from Berea ($11 080).

In his ad­dress, Us Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Mathew har­ring­ton said the fund­ing would go a long way to­wards sup­port­ing peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/AIDS and OVC in com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

“through th­ese projects, group mem­bers will have bet­ter re­sources and im­proved skills to care for each other and the vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of their com­mu­nity af­fected by this tragic epi­demic,” Am­bas­sador har­ring­ton said.

each year, he said, the PEPFAR team sets aside $150 000 to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties through its small grants pro­gramme.

“this pro­gramme helps lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions strengthen the care and sup­port they pro­vide to HIV/AIDS pa­tients and to fam­i­lies af­fected by the dis­ease,” said Am­bas­sador har­ring­ton.

“the com­pe­ti­tion for fund­ing from the PEPFAR small Grants pro­gramme was fierce this year. We re­ceived 60 ap­pli­ca­tions, and through care­ful re­view and con- sider­a­tion, we nar­rowed it down to only the top eight projects.”

he said the grants were not blank checks and urged the ben­e­fi­cia­ries to use them wisely.

“the fund­ing for PEPFAR small Grants Pro­gram has been made pos­si­ble by the gen­eros­ity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and one of my most important re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is mak­ing sure that the Amer­i­can peo­ple’s as­sis­tance is well spent and has a pos­i­tive im­pact,” the am­bas­sador said.

For her part, Le­sotho Net­work of AIDS ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tions (Le­naso) ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mamello Makoae said when the first case of HIV was dis­cov­ered in Le­sotho in 1986, there was no clear un­der­stand­ing of the dis­ease.

“there was no treat­ment in this coun­try and the dis­ease was spread­ing so fast with health fa­cil­i­ties full of pa­tients who could only be treated for op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tions and die,” she said.

sup­port groups, Ms Makoae said, were es­tab­lished to pro­vide home-based care.

“At that time, they were not even trained to do the work, they never had any re­sources to do the work.

they even im­pro­vised to use plas­tic bags as gloves, but the com­mit­ment, the pas­sion to sup­port each other re­mained un­chal­lenged,” she said.

“some died be­cause they were tak­ing care of oth­ers with­out proper pre­cau­tions but this never stopped them from car­ing for their neigh­bours, their rel­a­tives and friends.”

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