HER MAJESTY LAUNCHES EID MACHINE AT WORLD
Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso led the candle lighting and
launch of the Point of Care for Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) Machine at
the World AIDS Day commemoration in Maseru on Thursday.
The machine is meant to detect the infants’ HIV status within two hours
to fast-track treatment in saving their lives and 159 health centres
around Lesotho will have such installations to reduce the time taken
between infection detection and treatment administration.
Under the theme “Hands Up For HIV Prevention”, the commemoration staged
at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre also drew attendance from the Deputy
Prime Minister (DPM), Ministers and Heads of the Diplomatic Mission
among others who toured projects and photo exhibitions while DPM
Mothetjoa Metsing presented awards to People Living with HIV and AIDS
with tokens of appreciation.
The commemoration that follows the reinstallation of the National AIDS
Commission (NAC) also drew participation from the Limkokwing University
of Creative Technology (LUCT) students who gave an emotional theatre
performance on the behaviour patterns that make youth prone to HIV
infection, while local individuals performers presented their
performances on the theme.
In her address Her Majesty said while the nation is in the process to
remember brothers and sisters lost to AIDS-related deaths and having
celebrated the 50th Independence Anniversary, this should serve as an
opportune moment to reflect on the journey traveled over the 30 years
since the HIV pandemic. She added that this is an opportunity to
reaffirm commitment hence the need to be effective and responsive to the
pandemic as this year’s theme is a reminder that Basotho need invigorate
and eradicate infection by 2030.
She said it challenges to reaffirm targets while she noted that new
infections have according to statistics revealed that new HIV infections
are more prevalent in women aged 30 to 35 years of age hence said this
calls for consolidated efforts to ensure that the current infection
statistics are reduced and on this note revealed that the current
statistics rate women as being most vulnerable to infection while
infection statistics stood at 23.9 percent in 2009 and rose to 45
percent in 2014.
“The situation remains dire and calls for serious introspection and
continuing business as usual risks the future of Lesotho and we need to
work together and do better,” the Queen said.
She stated that the interventions such as the reestablishment of the NAC
with stakeholder coordination, Test and Treat making Lesotho first
country in Sub-Saharan Africa and second in the world to launch, the
viral load testing in three regional laboratories and the provision for
HIV test for infants among others call for stakeholders to undertake
massive effort to improve outreach programmes, drug supply and as well
as help Lesotho address the stigma and discrimination aligned with an
HIV positive status as such inhibits and deters people from seeking HIV
At the same event the United States (US) Ambassador to Lesotho Mr.
Matthew Harrington said he has in the past year witnessed and engaged in
visionary leadership and innovative policy changes that are having a
positive, lasting impact on the lives of many Basotho.
Ambassador Harrington said the US Embassy celebrated World AIDS Day by
heeding the government’s plea for all of its partners to celebrate this
day in a very different way than in the past, saying they volunteered
their time to help those affected by the AIDS epidemic. He added that
the US Embassy team spent a morning volunteering at St Cecilia’s home of
orphans and vulnerable children on the outskirts of Maseru where 68
children are cared for under the custody of Reverend Mahlaku.
He said they painted several rooms, donated food
and supplies and as well as spent time with the children living there
who have faced challenges unimaginable.
The US Ambassador noted that the Government of Lesotho took a bold step
earlier this year to launch the Test and Treat, which he said was not an
easy policy decision given the potential financial implications that he
however said is already making a dramatic difference as each Mosotho who
tests positive is now eligible to begin treatment right away instead of
having to wait for months or years until their CD4 count drops to a
“As a result we have seen a substantial increase in the numbers of
HIV-positive Basotho on treatment in the five target districts supported
by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” he
asserted adding that in 2014 when he gave his first World AIDS Day
speech only 35 percent of HIV-positive individuals were on
anti-retroviral treatment (ART); a number which he said has increased to
42 percent in 2015. He said in 2016, 57 percent of HIV-positive Basotho
are on ART in the five PEPFAR supported districts.
The commemoration meanwhile had Lesotho Network for People Living with
HIV and AIDS (LENPWHA)’s chairperson Ms. Teboho Kalikali who said that
the organisation has several members who are poised to work hard in
improving Lesotho’s current status of being the second in global
rankings on HIV and AIDS prevalence, while the Champions of Hope
Ambassadors through Ms. ‘Macorina Phakisi expressed gratitude for the
reestablishment of the NAC. She expressed hope that the organisation
would operate at community level in collaboration with stakeholder
offices in Community Councils.
The 2016 World AIDS Day commemoration paid tribute to the fallen
champions comprising Lebohang Monyane, Thulo Masaile, Kekeletso
Serobanyane, Mothusi Masholugu, Ntoi Matela and Bakuena Chele.
Source: LENA 01/12/2016