INTERNATIONALLY-ACCLAIMED British supermodel, Naomi Campbell is expected in Lesotho for the launch of the HIV and Health Situation Room in Maseru, the Sunday Express can reveal.
Ms Campbell will be part of a high-powered UNAIDS delegation that includes the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe and Catherine Sozi, the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The HIV and Health Situation Room is a health information system that will enable the Ministry of Health to know the statistics of people tested for HIV, TB and other diseases around the country. The information system will help create a comprehensive picture and understanding of Lesotho’s epidemics.
It was developed by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNAIDS and it is supported by the government of Sweden, which contributed resources as part of its continued support to improving monitoring and evaluation of the global AIDS epidemic.
Highly placed sources who spoke to Sunday Express on condition of anonymity yesterday said Ms Campbell will arrive in Lesotho today.
“It has been confirmed that Naomi Campbell will jet into the country (today) as part of the UNAIDS executive delegation for the launch of the first ever HIV Room in Lesotho,” the source said.
The source said the situation room will be launched at the Ministry of Health Headquarters.
The situation room will continuously update and present HIV reproduction, maternal and neo-natal and child health information in Lesotho.
According to the source, there will be several complimentary activities including a tour of Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
The Tuesday launch will be graced by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe.
In addition to her modelling career, Ms Campbell has embarked on other ventures, which include music and several acting appearances in film and television.
She is also involved in charity work for various causes.
She will be part of the launch of the Ministry of Health’s situation room which was conceived as part of the government’s commitment to fast tracking the HIV response among children, adolescents and young people.
The source explained that the situation room will specifically provide up to date information for the prioritisation, planning, decision making and accountability at country level.
The situation room, the source said, would utilise existing data to present selected indicators from diverse data sources in a single interactive and dynamic platform.
The platform will also be used to monitor progress towards achieving the Lesotho AIDS Strategic Framework goals. It will also be used to monitor and map the situation of HIV related commodities in the country and avail easy data for decision making for the government, partners and relevant stakeholders.
According to the global information and education on HIV and AIDS, Lesotho is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV, with the second highest HIV prevalence after eSwatini. HIV prevalence was 25 percent in 2016 and has been around this level since 2005.
An estimated 330 000 people were living with HIV in Lesotho and 9 900 died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016.
However, overall HIV incidence as declined from 30 000 new infections in 2005 to 21 000 in 2016.
Lesotho’s main mode of HIV transmission is through heterosexual sex, accounting for 80 percent of new infections in 2014.
In 2016, 72 percent of people living with HIV in Lesotho were aware of their status while 53 percent of all those living with HIV were on treatment.
Data on the percentage of people on treatment who are virally suppressed has not been reported. Stigma remains a barrier to HIV testing and treatment, particularly among men and people from key populations.