Stepping up HIV/AIDS efforts
Monday 29 March 2004
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LESOTHO: Stepping up HIV/AIDS efforts

JOHANNESBURG, 25 November (PLUSNEWS) - Lesotho will soon launch a new body to coordinate HIV/AIDS programmes and place the epidemic at the top of the government's agenda.

After adopting a policy document to scale up the kingdom's response to the prevalence rate last month, the cabinet also agreed to the establishment of an autonomous National AIDS Commission (NAC) to spearhead the initiative.

NAC will replace the existing Lesotho AIDS Programme Coordinating Authority (LAPCA), which has been criticised for its slow pace in implementing prevention and treatment programmes.

"It was felt that LAPCA did not have enough influence to ensure that programmes move forward. They have also been plagued by inadequate staffing and have not been able to effectively carry out their mandate," Mojakisane Mathaha, UN Development Programme (UNDP) social policy planner told PlusNews.

The UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS has been involved in the drafting of the new policy document: "Strategies for Scaling Up the National Response to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Lesotho: Turning a Crisis Into an Opportunity".

The report recommended that HIV/AIDS be placed at the core of each government department programme. "If we consider that our prevalence rate is now sitting at 35 [percent], government sectors now have to revolve around HIV/AIDS," Mathaha pointed out.

Although workplace policies and legislation had been put in place to protect the rights of HIV-positive people, "not much is happening on the ground" he added.

Stigma and discrimination were a major obstacle. According to Mathaha, one of the NAC's first campaigns would be the promotion of voluntary counselling and testing centres by senior government officials. "UNDP is in the process of developing Sesotho manuals for MPs to use when going out in the community."

The rolling-out of NAC had been delayed due to "technical issues", LAPCA director of administration, Mathoriso Monaheng, told PlusNews. "We hope to have everything in place early next year," she said.

[ENDS]

Recent LESOTHO Reports

Anti-AIDS programme working with the youth, 10/Mar/04
HIV/AIDS testing facilities still to be set up, 9/Mar/04
Govt moves to tackle AIDS pandemic, 8/Mar/04
New laws to strengthen HIV/AIDS action, 12/Feb/04
Testing times for rural households, 11/Feb/04

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
AEGIS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
    Network

  • GTZ/Afronets


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