HEALTH Minister, Molotsi Monyamane has urged the public to cooperate with workers implementing the Lesotho Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) as the country steps up efforts to beat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
LePHIA is a nationally representative study led by the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health, with funding and technical support from the US government through PEPFAR, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ICAP at Colombia University (United States of America).
Dr Monyamane made the call on Friday during a tour of Qamo village in the Leribe district on Friday which was meant to assess the implementation of the LePHIA project.
The PHIA project consists of household based population surveys to collect information related to HIV in approximately 15 countries and in Lesotho, the aim is to provide HIV and health services to at least 10 500 randomly selected households.
Dr Monyamane encouraged the Qamo community to cooperate as the project would benefit them and the entire country as the results would be useful in the implementation of the National Development Strategic plan (NSDP) II.
Dr Monyamane said Lesotho was faced with a huge challenge of high HIV prevalence hence the need to examine the distribution of HIV/AIDS, to assess the coverage and impact of HIV services at population level and to measure HIV related behaviours using a nationally representative sample of adults and children.
“These people knock at your doors every day to work on ensuring that we rescue you and the country from infection,” Dr Monyamane said, adding, “We want to achieve only what is best for this country as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned”.
He said he expected LePHIA to have the same positive impact as the Test and Treat campaign.
“Two years ago when we came into government, people who tested for HIV were estimated to be 300 000 and those on ART (antiretroviral drug treatment) were about 115 000 and after the introduction and launch of the Test and Treat 750 000 people tested for HIV while 130 000 are on ART.
One of the participants hailed the government and its partners, saying this would enable her family including her husband and children to be tested.
“My husband always tell me that if I test that means he is also safe.
“I’m glad that they brought services to my house and we are all going to get tested together which is something that never happened before,” she said.
Another participant concurred, adding, this made services easily accessible and he did not recall when he last left his home “to get tested at the nearest clinic”.
ICAP Communications Officer, Reaboka Maraisane said the assessment was generally proceeding very well as the communities and the households had been cooperative with the only challenge being that some would not be available because of work and school commitments.
“In some households, people are not found especially men who work in South Africa.
“Children who live with their grandparents cannot be attended to because the guardians cannot give consent on behalf of the absent parents,” Ms Maraisane said.