13 April 2016
A sick, pregnant young girl (middle) accompanied to Tebellong hospital crosses the river

Tebellong hospital in Qacha’sNek was among institutions where enumeration took place on Wednesday (13/04/2016).

District Census Coordinator for Qacha’s Nek, Ms. Joyce Motlomelo explained that besides the rough terrain and lengthy distances as a result, there were no real challenges encountered during enumeration process in the Qacha’s Nek Constituency.

The Area Enumerator, Ms Nteboheleng Nyakiso who was administering counting in Tebellong Hospital, mentioned that there was generally a high acceptance and cooperation of the people to be counted. Since there are fewer questions in such areas, Ms. Nyakiso said it was more efficient to administer manual questionnaire as it was much shorter and specific for in-patients. The enumeration area lies in the highlands of the Southern District with most villages in the area surrounded and enclaved along the banks of the biggest river in Lesotho, Senqu River. Access to these areas and the hospital has posed challenges in reach and distance. Tebellong Hospital is a Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) Health Facility established in 1962. To get to this hospital, one has to cross the Senqu River, which is more than 50 metres wide and without a foot or motor bridge.

Enumerators, including villages have to use four by four (4X4) vehicles, boats or ride on horseback. From the river, one has to ascend a mountain making the journey take around 30 minutes’ drive, despite the distance being approximately (5) kilometres. 

The Manager of Nursing Services at the hospital Mrs. Nomathemba Bhuqwana says the river poses a major challenge as sick people, including pregnant women have to cross the river and then go up the rocky mountain to get to the hospital. “Sometimes women end up giving birth on the other side of the river waiting for daybreak so that they can get boats for crossing. The road is also not in good condition, so you can imagine sick people travelling in those conditions and also pregnant women having to be assisted by men to cross the     river,” she states.

In addition, the Manager says they are beginning to see malnutrition cases at the hospital due to the El nino induced drought that has hit Lesotho. “Normally at this time of the year there is a lot of food such as maize but this year there is hardly anything for the people to eat as they mostly depend on agricultural produce,” she adds.

Furthermore, another major problem, according to the Nursing Manager, is early marriage. Girls as young as 15 years get married in the area. “They therefore make children too early and end up with cephalopelvic disproportion,” she adds.

Again, the Nursing Manager is also worried about the many cases of HIV based on the majority of women who undergo pre natal clinic, testing positive.

“We suspect poverty also has a role to play here as most men from the area have migrated to Durban in South Africa and they attract lot of women when they come back.” Mrs Bhuqwana’s view is that there is need for education, particularly for the youth and men in order to remedy this situation.

Meanwhile, the hospital community including patients were also among those enumerated during the on-going housing and population census. In the same vain, the District Census Coordinator, Ms. Joyce Motlomelo confirmed that they were working in villages beyond Tebellong Hospital where they have to leave vehicles at least 30 minutes away from those villages and walk or access them by horseback. The 2016 paperless census which started on 10/04/2016 will be completed on 24/04/2016. Results are scheduled to be published in July 2016.