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MSF in Lesotho, 2009
Field Staff: (this figure is integrated with those of South Africa)
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Lesotho »
In Lesotho, one of the countries worst-affected by HIV/AIDS, 270,000 people live with the virus, 117,000 of whom need antiretroviral therapy (ART). Yet only 41,000 people are receiving the life-prolonging treatment.
Four years ago, MSF and the national health authorities jointly launched a program to provide HIV/AIDS care, including ART, in rural Lesotho. MSF has now handed over six of the 15 clinics it has been supporting in the Scott Hospital Health Service based south of the capital Maseru.
These six centers will now be run by the local health authorities to help decentralize care and bring treatment closer to people in rural areas. Nurses will be trained to administer treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB). Lay counselors, often HIV-positive themselves, will also be trained to support new patients and help them to adhere to the treatment.
The program launched in Scott Hospital includes a district hospital and 14 health centers in remote rural communities. This covers around 220,000 people, 30,000 of whom are HIV-positive. In addition to general healthcare, the clinics provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS care including testing, ART and counseling as well as prevention of mother-to-child transmission. MSF has also worked to strengthen laboratory services, drug supply, infrastructure, and program monitoring.
Throughout the year, nearly 54,000 HIV tests were carried out, and more than 6,000 patients were started on ART. The results for the first two years are encouraging; 80 per cent of adults and 93 per cent of children are still alive after 12 months of treatment. In addition, HIV transmission from mother to child has been reduced to less than five per cent.
However since 90 per cent of patients with HIV/AIDS are co-infected with TB, the program is now also focusing on improving TB diagnosis and integrating HIV/AIDS and TB services.
Mamatsoele, HIV-positive and a counselor working in a remote mountain clinic ‘When I talk to people about HIV, I make an example of my life and how I lived before knowing my status. Even if you are taking the medicine, if you don’t accept your status, it won’t help. Accepting my own HIV-positive status made me feel like a new person.’
MSF has worked in Lesotho since 2006.