How NAC bypassed CHE in response to HIV
I WRITE this letter in response to “LUCT, NAC ink deal to fight HIV/AIDS” ( Lesotho Times, 3 November 2016) on the newly relaunched National AIDS Commission (NAC) fighting HIV/AIDS in institutions of higher education (IHES).
All is well that NAC, now led by Keratile Thabana (CEO) recognizes the role and benefits of engaging IHES such as LUCT in the national response. The rationale for the MOU was that IHES have substantial numbers of sexually-active young people who are believed to be highly infected with HIV. The article describes the MOU actions and benefits for NAC, LUCT and the nation at large.
Amid the good intention and acronyms, one was notably missing, and this was the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Despite its work in availing the CHE Strategic Plan 2004/05-2014/15, with its 10 Focal Areas, of which Focal Area 9 is “Managing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Institutions of Higher Education”, the trio in MOU ignored and deliberately by-passed CHE in planning and signing the MOU. Such was the hurry for an accord that not even the Ministries of Education (MOET) and of Health (MOH) were cited as partners.
In its mandate, CHE provides regulatory, coordination and accreditation frames for IHES. It should therefore be mandatory, even for NAC, to work in consultation with and approval of CHE, and that would be evident in the articles.
The NAC-CHE relationship is a strongly familiar territory for current CEO of NAC, somewhat familiar for LUCT, and I bet ACHAP would plead unfamiliarity, hence their own oversight in thoroughly mapping its na- IN response to “Mosisili takes fight to Moleleki” ( Lesotho Times, 10 November 2016), we can support our congress or national movements but we refuse hatred and enmity that you have advocated for the last 20 years.
Chiefs Thesele ‘Maseribane tional MOU partners.
One of CHES strategies is to achieve a “reduction in HIV infections and AIDS related illnesses among students and staff in all institutions of higher learning”, which the MOU trio has not heard of.
A strategic goal is “to facilitate the standardization of HIV and AIDS institutional policies and strategies” with the output to have “uniform guidelines for HIV and AIDS guidelines for IHE policies and strategies in place” with the outcome of “increased effectiveness of HIV/AIDS interventions in the various IHES”.
These orderly components should be the basis of such MOU, but as NAC has powers of by-pass and can re-invent the wheel, the existing CHE strategy and IHES networks on AIDS were not helpful.
I argue that a better action would be if NAC convened an indaba of IHES: say LCE, LP, LUCT, NHTC, NUL, Nursing colleges, etc to jointly plan with ACHAP, sign an MOU for and design individual IHE interventions based on existing on-campus capabilities, all monitored by CHE.
The current action by NAC undermines years of CHES efforts to unite and sync IHES in fighting AIDS. Although the trio’s MOU represents a good idea, its weakness is in failing to evidence any involvement of principal entities. This was despite, if not because of the CEOS working knowledge of MOET and CHE, having been PS at MOET not less than two years.
Even if I allow due space to CEO as a political appointee, her opening style in leading the national response is the same old muddle-through that characterized NAC before
and Joang Molapo are citizens of this country and it is within their rights to stand for political office.
When other chiefs join the congress movements you never come up with all these divisive comments.
Chief Matlejane Molapo Qhobela was a long-time Basotho Congress Party representative in UK; and there are other countless chiefs who are members of the congress movements.
We want to work together as Basotho in our villages, towns and it fell.
The contradictions are that despite a new Board and CEO, NACS past failures will repeat. One reason, which saw NAC go broke and close shop five years ago, was that it veered off-course from its mandate to provide leadership, policy and M&E frames, and took up grants-making.
The shift needed close monitoring of implementing partners (IPS), resulting in NAC micro-managing the IPS projects, only to end up racing against time to account to a closing audit. A second was a halo effect used in selecting some IPS (based on traits such as ‘umbrellahood’ and history) as is now the case with LUCT, whose bias is creativity and marketing flair, and ACHAP whose bias and uniquely justifiable role was not clear.
The third reason was lack of program clarity. Although LUCT urgently needs an AIDS program, NAC just imposed one with no competitive selection criteria except the CEOS vision to use its creative curriculum for a distant hope to influence young people to change behavior.
In the run up to the MOU, there was no evidence of any student/staff of LUCT taking an HIV test, in contradiction to the concurrently launched “test and treat” strategy ( The Post, Nov 3, 2016 ‘Lesotho hailed in HIV fight’) in which testing is still key.
By cherry-picking LUCT among IHES, and without CHES fully-endorsed go-ahead, NAC’S action run counter to UNAIDS (2003) Three Ones principles: ‘ one national framework, one coordinating authority, one M&E framework’, by failing transparency and sense of oneness among IHES.
I conclude that, LUCT can potentially raise
cities to improve our lives and you come up with all these statements about nationalists and congress people being oil and water.
Donald Trump has already held meetings with Barack Obama for a smooth transition from Democrats rule to Republican rule.
Ernest Ramakhethu Khumalo.
WE need much stronger gun control laws and a police service that will enforce them, and a court system that will punish convicted offenders appropriately “Leribe HIV prevention through its curriculum, but it is relatively new to the fight against AIDS and has neither the appropriately qualified staff nor an on-campus health unit to support piloting a service initiative.
The articles did not reveal what tangible artifacts will be availed by the MOU, but current practice requires that for ‘test and treat’ to work, IPS must act in the context of 3x90’s to have: 90 percent take HIV test, 90 percent on ARVS and 90 percent have HIV suppression.
Without a plan to first achieve (not really 90 percent) but an acceptable sample of HIV testing at LUCT — which is not evident in the trio’s immediate plans - the unproven hypothesis that HIV is highly prevalent in IHES will persist. As most IHES lack HTC capacity, they outsource testing with MOHapproved partners but are often not copied reports showing numbers, sexes, ages, first/ repeat clients, academic year and status etc, hence my call for evidence to prove the height of HIV prevalence in IHES.
Testing the hypothesis is (in my experience coordinating one IHES response) the key and foundation of a meaningful response. Finally, strengthening the response in IHES is a valid, doable, yet sensitive frontier that needs joint efforts among all stakeholders in education.
Thus, readers need to rethink how an MOU between NAC, ACHAP and LUCT can achieve national and own targets by bypassing CHE, MOET and MOH and other IHES. That is a mystery which only the current CEO of NAC can unravel. Monaphathi Maraka,
MP Berea #27
woman accused of murder” ( Lesotho Times, 10 November 2016).
WHY is it that only in Africa we have such leaders and such kind of leadership? It is only in Africa where the governments control the internet and frustrate freedom of expression. Domnique Vint.
IN response to “Govt mulls social media crackdown” ( Lesotho Times, 10 November 2016), no one is enti-
tled to undermine the rule of law by undermining our constitution and our rights.
IN response to “Govt speaks out on Kamoli exit” ( Lesotho Times, 10 November 2016), the United States can also help Lesotho in the application and administration of the rule of law by providing training for police in forensic science and police stations with computers and Internet access.