A Behind-the-Scenes Look at ABC 20/20's Segment on the Foundation's Horse-riding for Health Program in Lesotho
December 17, 2010
Just a few weeks ago, I was with ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, Foundation Country Director Dr. Leo Buhendwa, and a film crew on top of a mountain in the Kingdom of Lesotho.
ABC correspondent Deborah Roberts films a stand-up shot
high on a plateau above Mokhotlong. (Photo: EGPAF)
It was a sometimes harrowing trip up steep, winding roads and through mountain passes to film at a remote health clinic supported by the Foundation. It’s a trip that Potso Seoete makes several times a week – not by car, but on horseback.
Potso and other Basotho pony riders have been hired by the Foundation to go where trucks and motorbikes are often unable to go. They deliver drugs and supplies to clinics that are sometimes isolated by weather and road conditions for months at a time.
On their return journey, they bring back blood samples to test for HIV. The results determine who needs antiretroviral drugs for treatment, and which pregnant mothers need them to protect their own health and to prevent the transmission of HIV to their infants.
Time is of the essence. Potso has to pass the samples off to a motorcycle rider at the base of the mountain, who makes the last leg of the journey to the hospital lab. If the samples don’t arrive within six hours after the blood was drawn, they’ll be useless.
Deborah, Leo, the crew, and I followed Potso on his journey from start to finish. We met some incredible people along the way – doctors, nurses, counselors, mothers, fathers, and children – all of whom are working to combat Lesotho’s record-high HIV prevalence rates.
They’re part of a united effort to reach every single pregnant woman, no matter where they live, with HIV testing and the medicines needed to prevent them from passing on the virus to their babies.
The Foundation is working hard with the Lesotho Ministry of Health, USAID through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the generous support of private donors to achieve a generation free of HIV in this mountain kingdom and throughout the world.
You can join our efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS; click here to find out how
. Just $50 can protect a baby from the virus – from pregnancy through breastfeeding – and secure the chance for a healthy future.
I hope you watch the show tonight on ABC, at 10:00 PM Eastern Time. Before you do, however, take a minute to meet Potso
, and take a sneak peek at behind-the-scenes photos from the film shoot
Also, remember to visit the blog next week for another posting about our journey with Potso into the mountains, including some stories that didn’t make it into the 20/20
Robert Yule is the Foundation’s Media Manager, based in Washington, D.C.