LESOTHO GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES “TEST AND TREAT”, BRINGING HIV TREATMENT TO ALL
Last week, the Lesotho government, through the Ministry of Health, with support from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), celebrated the launch of “Test and Treat” guidelines for HIV throughout the country.
Lesotho is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to implement these new guidelines. First issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, the new guidelines remove all limitations on eligibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) and recommend that anyone infected with HIV should begin ART as soon after diagnosis as possible.
The launch event, held at the Senkatana Center for Excellence in Maseru, marked the official adoption and beginning of the roll-out of these guidelines with the goal of having “Test and Treat” implemented in every health facility in the country by June 1, 2016.
In his official speech the Hon. Prime Minister, Dr. Pakalitha B. Mosisili, thanked all partners, with special mention of the U.S. government, for consistently standing with the country as great strides are taken to eliminate the burden of HIV on the Basotho nation. He further challenged the country leadership and all sectors of government, and society, to accept the baton of leadership and to work together to keep up the momentum in the fight to end AIDS.
Dr. Mosisili reaffirmed the Lesotho government’s dedication to making health a priority and implementing innovative measures that are crosscutting and impactful.
The Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Molotsi Monyamane, announced that in implementing Test and Treat, the Ministry of Health will use innovative strategies to ensure treatment access for all and declared that village health workers and support groups would be instrumental as the foot soldiers on the ground making treatment available for every Mosotho. This declaration was well received by the audience with much praise from the first lady, ‘M’e ‘Mathato Mosisili, who was also in attendance.
Also present at the event was the Lesotho Coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Mr. Reuben Haylett, on behalf of the US Ambassador. Haylett commended the Lesotho government for reacting so promptly to the WHO’s guidance and initiating Test and Treat within such a short time. He also confirmed continued support of the U.S. government in effectively addressing the burden of disease the country is facing.
In her address, on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mrs. Therese Zeba Kobeane, congratulated Lesotho for being the first country in Sub-Sahara Africa to adopt the WHO guidelines and launch Test and Treat as a national imperative.
Hon. Prime Minister, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili and other distinguished delegates, led the ribbon cutting ceremony. Handing over of new guidelines by the Hon. Minister of Health to the Hon. Prime Minister followed the ceremony. The Hon. Prime Minister led the tour of the facility where Test and Treat services would be provided.