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Lesotho gets M1.5 billion to fight TB, HIV and Aids

Limpho Sello

MASERU — Global Fund, a United Nations organisation that finances development projects, on Wednesday gave Lesotho US$17 million (approximately M1.5 billion) to prevent and treat tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. This is the second grant for treating the TB and HIV/Aids pandemics. The first grant, US$123 million (about M1.94 billion), was donated in 2003.

Global Fund Regional Manager for Southern Africa, Cynthia Mwase, and Finance Minister Leketekete Ketso signed the agreement to finance TB and HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programmes. Speaking at the signing ceremony Mwase said Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world which stands at 24 percent. It also has the fourth highest estimated TB incidences.

“The TB-HIV co-infection rates are the fifth highest in the world and multidrug resistant TB is a growing challenge,” Mwase said.
She however said since 2003 there has been progress in treating the two diseases. She said the funds provided by the Global Fund have been used properly. Lesotho is making significant efforts to address the emerging problem of multiple TB drug resistant strains and the serious challenge of HIV/TB co-infection, Mwase said. “However there is still more work to do with treatment success and completion rates for new and previously treated cases,” she said.

“Lesotho has made progress towards the reduction of the HIV epidemic. “Incidence of new HIV infections declined by 16 percent between 2008 and 2011 and evidence shows that 97 percent of new infections are driven by multiple and concurrent partnerships,” she said. Mwase said the Global Fund is pleased to be able to support Lesotho to work towards achieving global targets.

Finance Minister Ketso said the government of Lesotho has put both HIV and TB as one of the top national priorities.
“However it must be noted that government on its own cannot have sufficient resources to scale up interventions to reverse the challenges posed by the two diseases,” Ketso said. He said the government appreciates the contribution made by the Global Fund by providing additional funds to our country to battle the two diseases.

Health Minister Pinkie Manamolela, who was present at the event, said the grant will focus at risk populations such as girls, herd boys, HIV patients, couples and youths out of school in order to reduce the incidence of new infections. “Most risk populations will be reached with a basic package of prevention interventions, such as prevention messages, condom distributions, management of sexually transmitted infections and referrals to health facilities,” Manamolela said. “They will be implemented in partnership with civil society organisations and community support groups,” she said.

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