Welcoming U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby to Lesotho
EGPAF and other key PEPFAR partners in Lesotho were recently invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; Selloane Qhobela, principal secretary at the Lesotho Ministry of Social Development; and Nkhala Sefako, national coordinator for the Global Fund in Lesotho. Accompanying Ambassador Goosby was Deborah Von Zinkernagel, principal deputy global AIDS coordinator. The meeting was chaired by Lucille Bonaventure, PEPFAR’s country manager for Lesotho.
Mrs. Nkhala gave a presentation on the situation and challenges of coordinating the Global Fund in Lesotho. Afterward, Ambassador Goosby, who also is a member of the Board of Directors at the Global Fund, proceeded to ask many questions concerning the prevailing situation in Lesotho and raised several important points:
- Because Lesotho does not seem a high priority for the Global Fund at present, Ambassador Goosby expressed a willingness to go to Geneva to advocate for more aid to the country.
- He also stated that the Global Fund in Lesotho should be even more flexible, proactive, and welcoming of all national and international partners who are willing to collaborate.
- Ambassador Goosby called for greater clarity and structure concerning the role of the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in Lesotho. In addition, he advocated the re-establishment of a National AIDS Commission (NAC); the raising of salaries for doctors and nurses; and an increase in funding from the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and other donors if and when the government of Lesotho decides to pursue Option B+ as its PMTCT strategy.
The following day, Ambassador Goosby visited Mafeteng Hospital, which is a health facility supported by PEPFAR through its main implementing partners EGPAF, the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), and Population Services International (PSI). Dr. Michael Maracto, Mafeteng’s District Medical Officer, discussed key challenges at the facility and in the district at large with Ambassador Goosby, in particular human resources as it relates to health care workers. Ambassador Goosby then visited staff members in several departments in the hospital including the maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) PMTCT clinic, the antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinic, the tuberculosis clinic, and the main laboratory. A highlight of the day was the Ambassador and his entourage taking time to watch the MNCH nurse demonstrating the Mother-Baby Pack.
Closing out their visit at a dinner at the residence of Michelle Bond, the U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho, Ambassador Goosby and his delegation expressed their satisfaction at being able to visit Lesotho during a unique “transitional” period when Pinkie Manamolela, Lesotho’s new Minister of Health, is beginning her tenure – and confirmed the probability of increasing financial support from the U.S. government to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho.