LESOTHO has made huge strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS by introducing Primary Health Care Clinics (PHC) at tertiary institutions including the National University of Lesotho (NUL), the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has said.
EGPAF Country Director, Tšepang Mohlomi, said this while addressing the belated World AIDS Day commemorations that were held on Friday at the NUL Campus on Friday.
World AIDS Day commemorations have taken place on 1 December every year since 1988 and seek to raise awareness about the threat posed by HIV/AIDS.
The event is also a platform to remember those died as a result of the disease, show solidarity with people living with HIV, celebrate survival and health, and raise funds for HIV and related causes. HIV weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV, but with proper medical care, the virus can be controlled.
Lesotho has the second highest HIV-prevalence in the world at 23 percent. Swaziland leads the prevalence at 26 percent while Botswana is third at 19 percent.
And on Friday, NUL collaborated with EGPAF and the Lesotho Network AIDS Services Organisation (LENASO) to commemorate World AIDS Day at NUL Campus in Roma.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Mohlomi, hailed the launch of the youth friendly clinics, saying they gave students access to health services at their doorstep.
She said the clinics were a key milestone since young people continued to be at risk of new HIV infections.
“At the beginning of 2017, only two of our tertiary institutions had fully operational PHCs, NUL being one of them,” Ms Mohlomi said.
“It was through partnerships with the Council on Higher Education (CHE), Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Commission (NAC) that a bold step was undertaken to introduce youth friendly clinics that would provide primary health as well as HIV services to the student community and staff at the tertiary institutions.
“Those efforts culminated into what we see today as outreach services provided by a nurse and a counsellor who are well trained to provide adolescent and youth friendly services.
“The NUL clinic also benefitted from additional staff and basic medical equipment to augment the excellent services that were already being provided.”
She said the services would be backed up by a medical doctor and psychologist who would available on appointment.
She said the clinic would continue to offer a range of primary health care and HIV and TB services including and not limited to tuberculosis screening, cancer screening, sexual and reproductive health services, sexually transmitted diseases screening and psychosocial support.
The day was marked through several activities such as HIV testing and counselling and condom distribution.