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WHO envoy impressed by local health workers

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

 

MASERU — World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Lesotho, Dr Angela Benson, has been reassigned to Congo-Brazzaville after a six-year stint in Lesotho.

Benson told the Sunday Express on Thursday that she was leaving with fond memories of the country.

She paid tribute to the passion and dedication of healthcare workers in Lesotho in fighting HIV and Aids.

“You should see how home-based health workers selflessly help members of the community who are weakened by HIV. They do it with all their hearts,” said Benson.

“To think that they do it so well and are not even paid for it really touches one’s heart.”

Lesotho has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with one in every four Basotho said to be infected with the virus that causes Aids.

Benson said she was proud to have been part of the programme that saw the government decentralise the provision of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to every healthcare centre in the country.

“There is already a significant growth in the provision of ART,” she said.

“When I arrived here in 2004 only about two health facilities provided ART services. The number has grown to almost all clinics.”

“WHO played a part in that progress by inviting other health partners to assist the government of Lesotho in their various specialisations,” she added.

“They responded and provided their expertise and bettered service provision in the health sector.”

Benson said she was confident that Lesotho’s health sector was in good hands based on the national health policies that had been adopted by the government.

“We have developed policies which will ensure equity of health services to every single person, at any given time and place,” she said.

“WHO and the Ministry of Health share the same sentiment that treatment should be standardised.”

Benson said she was also proud that the WHO had spearheaded the Know-Your-Status campaign, an ambitious programme launched in 2004 that encouraged people to get tested for HIV.

Lesotho became the first country in the world to launch a nationwide campaign to test its entire population for HIV.

The objective of the campaign, according to the WHO, was to ensure that all Basotho over the age of 12 knew their HIV status by the end of 2007.

Benson said there were still challenges that needed to be addressed in the fight against HIV and improving the general welfare of the people.

“There are many areas where we still have challenges,” she said.

“We still have many mothers and newborns dying during birth.”

Benson said Lesotho had over the past six years become like her second home, adding that she hoped to see more progress in the fight against HIV and Aids.

“I will come and visit as often as I can. Lesotho is my second home. I am so attached to the country,” she said.

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