Lesotho: HIV Mortality Remains High

11 September 2023

HIV continues to be one of the leading causes of illness and death among different age-groups in the country, with a high prevalence of 22.6 percent.

The situation is further worsened by the high coinfection of HIV and Tuberculosis (TB), whereby 73-percent of HIV-positive people also have TB.

In a move aimed at curbing these alarming statistics, SOS Children's Village on Saturday partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Jhpiego and Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA) to integrate sexual reproductive health (SRH), family planning, gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV services. This partnership seeks to intensify access to the organisations' services and pass the relevant knowledge to SOS children and was launched at a seminar held at SOS Village in Maseru on Tuesday.

This move comes after five of the 97 SOS children were found to be pregnant.

Saturday's seminar also sought to mobilize and sensitize the youth and caregivers about sexual and reproductive health hazards and preventive measures. It was also intended to empower the youth and caregivers with relevant information and knowledge so they could take full charge of their sexual lives and determine their future goals.

According to the event's coordinator, Lineo Manyeli, the parties joined forces to hold the workshop to create awareness amongst adolescents and caregivers about the HIV/STI infections, eligibility for accessing preventive methods, as well as adherence to prescribed treatment.

"The plan is to increase access to quality integrated SRH, HIV and GBV services and also to provide professional, accurate and complete knowledge in order to eradicate common fallacies about sexual illnesses and preventive methods," Ms Manyeli said.

Jhpiego's community health promoter, Kuena Thoote, added their organisation had increased awareness campaigns in an effort to protect the targeted, vulnerable communities.

"We have also increased campaigns through which the youth can access instant services. Jhpiego has also afforded the youth and caregivers an opportunity for risk assessment and access to preventive service," Ms Thoote said.

In her remarks, LPPA nurse, 'Marealeboha Ramoeletsi, said the organisation had improved awareness about unplanned pregnancy, contraceptive methods, and sensitisation on family planning.

EGPAF HIV clinical nurse, Sister 'Mamofolo Khamokha, on her part, urged the youth and caregivers to test for cervical cancer more frequently.

"We only do tests on people who are 25 years and above", Ms Khamokha said.

In his address to the seminar, the UNFPA's Leshoboro Katu, said they had, through their project, Karabo ea Bophelo, sensitised people on sexual gender-based violence. He further encouraged the youth and caregivers to seek instant help when victimised.

"Lesotho still has a high maternal mortality ratio due to limited access to and inadequate quality of integrated sexual and reproductive health services and information," Mr Katu said.

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