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US$250 million boost for HIV, AIDS fight

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE United States of America has pledged $250 million (about M3, 25 billion) towards initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS in Lesotho.

The US ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales, made the pledge at the ceremony to sign the five-year bilateral grant agreement called the Development Objective Grant Agreement between the governments of Lesotho and the US.

Ms Gonzales said the agreement provided that framework for funding activities of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lesotho under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“Under this bilateral agreement, the US plans to avail up to $250 million to combat HIV and AIDS in Lesotho from now until 2023,” Ms Gonzales said.

“Funding will go to the USAID’s implementing partners to work with local health workers to deliver high quality, life-saving prevention, care and treatment services. As I have stated in many occasions, the US is committed to our partnership with Basotho and the government to support this country’s efforts to achieve its development objectives, particularly in the health sector.”

Ms Gonzales said that the current PEPFAR programme remained committed to scaling up Lesotho’s antiretroviral treatment to reach the targeted 95 percent national coverage, commence the HIV self-testing initiative and to expand more efficient and effective testing strategies and treatment modalities, especially for adolescents and men.

“The US is extremely proud of our long-standing partnership with Lesotho, especially our joint efforts to save lives through PEPFAR over the last 10 years. We continue to work closely with the Government of Lesotho and our implementing partners on a daily bases to ensure Basotho living with HIV and AIDS receive the testing, counselling and treatment services they need to live healthy, productive lives. I am delighted to sign the Development Objectives Agreement with Lesotho on behalf of my government, which will serve as a durable planform for our joint efforts,” Ms Gonzales said.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Development Planning, Tlohang Aumane, the Minister of Energy and Meteorology, Mokoto Hloaele said that the HIV and AIDS pandemic continued to be a concern to the government.

“We are aware that this agreement paves the way for resources to be utilised by third party agencies under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Health and USAID for the betterment of our people. I urge such potential implementers to align themselves with the commitment demonstrated by the two governments here today and assist us in achieving the intended objectives of the agreement,” Mr Hloaele said.



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