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For a long time, every week the Mokhotlong hospital had to refill its oxygen supply at Motebang hospital in Leribe district which is 198 kilometres away. Since Mokhotlong is situated at the heart of Lesotho’s mountain range of 2512 meters above sea level, the hospital staff had to travel through the meandering roads to and from Motebang hospital every week to get oxygen supplies, sometimes especially during the winter snow when the roads are impassable they had to run the health facility with no or very minimal supplies.

Thanks to essential health commodities procured by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund through financial support from the Chinese government at the value of$500,000. The weekly travels are now a thing of the past. Among the health commodities procured for the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Lesotho, by UNFPA through Financial support of China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) are life-saving devices such as Oxygen Concentrators, personal protective equipment for health workers, contraceptives and other sexual and reproductive health supplies.

“These Oxygen Concentrators are saving lives. We can now easily provide oxygen to people with respiratory distress and some heart disease. The equipment is benefiting not only COVID 19 cases but also many of our patients who contracted Tuberculosis and Silicosis from many years of working in the South African mines. These devises are user friendly as they are light and portable and can easily be moved round the hospital without much effort,” said Mothimokholo Nkome, a Registered Nurse at Mokhotlong hospital.

His words were echoed by Sister Relebohile Leputla a Senior Nurse at Seboche hospital, who mentioned the Oxygen Concentrators are also useful in the maternity and pre maturely born baby wards. “Sometimes delivering mothers experience eclampsia and oxygen assists their breathing a lot, they also help during the periodic breathing by a baby. These oxygen concentrators are very useful during childbirth. They contribute to reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths in most cases.”

Speaking during the handing over ceremony at the Ministry of Health Headquarters in Maseru, UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw expressed gratitude to the Government of China for the support which he said was the first collaboration project with UNFPA and the Embassy of China, thus, marking the start of future collaboration.

He said the funding was part of a project which was developed with the Government of China and the Ministry of Health to relieve the government of Lesotho’s budget from the COVID-19 pandemic financial pressure. This focused on procuring supplies and equipment needed for safe deliveries and to availability of family planning commodities, information and counselling services including emergency contraception.

The Ambassador of China, His Excellency Lei Kezhong also underlined that the objectives of the medical assistance was to increase the availability of medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, increase the availability of sexual and reproductive health commodities and accumulative availability of life-saving devices.

He lauded UNFPA for its efforts and contributions in collaborating with the government of China in assisting the government of Lesotho, noting that partnerships between China and the UNFPA have made it possible to provide better assistance to Lesotho.

Receiving the commodities on behalf of the Government of Lesotho, the Minister of Health Mr. Semano Sekatle acknowledged both the Government of China and UNFPA for the generous donations that will contribute to saving lives. He said contraceptives and reproductive health are important as they relieve the Ministry off the heavy financial burden that it was facing.