UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund Representative to Lesotho Mrs Therese Zeba Kobeane represented the United Nations family in Lesotho at the launch of the “Test and Treat” strategy by the Honourable Prime Minister Dr Pakalitha Mosisili. The occasion was held at Senkatana Centre of Excellence in Maseru on Thursday (14/04/2016).
Speaking at the occasion, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Dr Mosisili hailed the event as another giant step in an effort to beat HIV and AIDS and an important day in history as Lesotho was the first country in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, if not in Africa to implement the Test and Treat All approach on a national scale.
He pledged the country’s commitment to ensuring that all national efforts are geared towards implementation of the Test and Treat guidelines, “and we appeal to our partners to join us as we walk the talk,” he added.
The Hon Prime Minister also made a special appeal to men to stand up and be counted in the fight against HIV and AIDS, “because I am convinced that we can contribute immensely to the fight against HIV and AIDS.”
He called for food assistance to people who are on Anti-Retroviral Treatment. “As we test and treat, let us find ways and means to ensure that people take the medicine with food. Let us somehow find a way to couple provision of ARVs with some form of nourishment,” he emphasized.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms Karla Robin Hershey, UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Mrs Therese Zeba Kobeane congratulated the Government of Lesotho for launching the bold and life changing HIV treatment strategy.
She stated that expanding access to treatment is at the heart of the Global fast-track approach to achieving the 90-90-90 targets set for 2020 with the aim to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The rollout of ‘Test and Treat All’, she added, would be critical for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially the Goal on health.
The UNFPA Representative also pointed out that the initiative came at an opportune time as the people who have been tested and have been waiting for treatment – in pre-ART care – would now have an opportunity to quickly get on treatment. “If we are to realize the full benefits of ‘Test and Treat All’, we need to scale up prevention interventions alongside the treatment,” she further stated.
Other speakers including the Hon. Minister of Health Dr ‘Molotsi Monyamane , a representative of Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LENEPWA) and the Director General in the Ministry of Health all expressed concern that Lesotho ranks at number one among countries with the prevalence of Tuberculosis and number two among countries with the highest HIV infection.