Nthatuoa Koeshe | Limpho Sello
LOCAL civil society organisations have stepped up HIV and TB advocacy efforts by tabling the Lesotho CSOs priority charter.
The charter was developed in collaboration with the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to coordinate their HIV and TB advocacy efforts.
The charter was tabled at a CSOs stakeholders’ validation meeting last week for discussions and adoption by stakeholders.
The charter will guide the CSOs engagement with government and donors to improve their response to HIV and TB among adolescents and children in Lesotho.
The CSOs are now expected come up with a joint implementation plan for the charter. However, it is still unclear when the implementation plan will be ready.
Despite Lesotho’s achievement of the 90-90-90 targets in HIV response, the country is still behind on meeting HIV and TB targets among children and adolescents. Therefore, the CSOs Priority Charter shall commence advocacy journey to achieve equality in HIV and TB response.
It is also expected to guide the CSOs to ensure Lesotho closes the gap between paediatric HIV targets and the achievement of the HIV and TB response.
Disease Control director in the Health ministry, Llaang Maama, said the charter will strengthen the efforts to address paediatric HIV and childhood TB in Lesotho.
Therefore, the tabling of the charter was a significant step towards improving the national HIV and TB response among children and adolescents.
“I appeal to CSOs to sustain this milestone advocacy journey for our future generation to ensure that no child misses treatment, care and support,” Dr Maama said.
She encouraged leaders in different spheres to be in the forefront of the advocacy to ensure a TB and AIDS-free generation.
NAC acting chief executive officer (CEO), Mamello Letsie, said despite Lesotho’s achievement of the 90-90-90 targets, the country was still lagging behind in terms of meeting the TB and HIV targets among children and adolescents.
She said it is estimated that 13 000 children aged up to 14 years and 306 000 adults above 15 years are currently living with HIV in Lesotho.
She noted that it was crucial to note that there were as much as 611 TB cases per 100 000 people, while 25, 6 percent of the population was HIV positive.
“The co-infection of TB and HIV continues to pose challenges of adherence to both anti-tubercular medication and antiretroviral therapy (ART).
ART coverage among adolescents and young people remains low, while viral load suppression among children is sub-standard,” Ms Letsie said.
She said the NAC was happy that the charter was synchronised with the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan.
“Among others, it shall help Lesotho to make more targeted interventions through the provision of TB/HIV and AIDS-related interventions to children and adolescents. Hence there will be efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery for our target populations, thereby closing the gaps,” Ms Letsie said.