Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Herald Success of Groundbreaking Program to Prevent MTCT

October 5, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Foundation is Awarded Expanded HIV and AIDS Project to Reach New Targets by 2011

October 5, 2010, Maseru, Lesotho – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Lesotho Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), are commemorating the conclusion of the five-year, $ 4.7 million, Call to Action (CTA) project in Lesotho that has supported the scale-up of services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV since 2004. The three entities are now continuing their collaboration to begin the expansion of PMTCT and HIV/AIDS care and treatment in all health facilities in Lesotho through the new USAID-funded Strengthening Clinical Services in Lesotho (SCS) project.

A press conference to highlight these groundbreaking programs will be held on October 6th at the Lesotho Sun Hotel at 4:00 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception at 6:00 p.m. The reception will feature a stunning photographic exhibition of people whose lives have been impacted by this project, and special guests will include Dr. Mphu Ramatlapeng, Lesotho’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Jeff Borns, the Mission Director of USAID South Africa, and EGPAF President and CEO, Charles Lyons.

From late 2004 through early 2010, the USAID-funded CTA project assisted Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to establish and expand PMTCT services from an initial nine sites in the country to 103 health facilities covering the six districts of Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Maseru, Mokhotlong, and Thaba Tseka. More than 55,000 pregnant women and 44,000 infants have been provided with antiretroviral prophylaxis for PMTCT through the project, and more than 135,000 individuals were enrolled in care at Foundation-supported sites.

“We are grateful for the support of both USAID and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare,” said Leopold Buhendwa, Country Director in Lesotho for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “This collaboration has improved the lives of countless women, children, and families in Lesotho, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership.”
Through the project, the Foundation has contributed to the Lesotho’s national PMTCT achievements by expanding coverage of HIV/AIDS care and treatment services, ensuring high-quality services, building community support, and providing assistance at the national level.
Through the Foundation, 2,000 male partners have been counseled and tested – those found to be HIV-positive have been enrolled or referred to care and treatment services, and counseled by Male Support Groups at many sites – an innovation that has helped to encourage greater participation of men in PMTCT and antenatal care services. 

With the successful conclusion of the CTA project, the Foundation was awarded a new, five-year expanded HIV/AIDS project by USAID with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in February 2010, to continue to provide comprehensive and integrated HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and PMTCT services to people residing in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“The success of the CTA project shows that it is possible to move closer to the goal of eliminating pediatric AIDS by delivering quality, comprehensive services – including prenatal care to pregnant women, and care and treatment for those already infected,” said Charles Lyons, President and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “The involvement of families, communities, and governments is a critical component of reaching that success.”

The EGPAF-USAID partnership is a major boost to the government’s efforts to reverse the HIV epidemic, particularly in children. The expansion of PMTCT services to all healthcare facilities by 2011, in accordance with the national scale-up plan, will make Lesotho one of only a few countries in Africa to reach this milestone. Ambitious targets for the new clinical services in Lesotho include reaching 200,000 HIV-positive individuals with HIV care services, testing 50,000 infants for HIV, and enrolling 75,000 people into HIV treatment.

Lesotho has the third-highest HIV prevalence in the world – with about one-in-four of its citizens living with HIV, according to the 2010 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) country progress report. The report also found that in 2008, there were approximately 21,000 new adult HIV infections, and approximately 12,000 people died from AIDS. More than half of the 260,000 adults living with HIV in Lesotho are women, making it especially urgent to reach pregnant women with treatment for their own health and to prevent transmission of the virus to their infants.

“The Foundation looks forward to continuing its partnership with USAID in the coming years, with our sights set on supporting Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to expand PMTCT to all healthcare facilities in the country by 2011,” added Lyons.

About the Call to Action Initiative:
The Foundation-initiated Call to Action initiative began in 1999 in the United States with private funds as a multinational effort to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, also known as vertical or perinatal transmission, in the parts of the world hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic. Additional financial support was provided to EGPAF by USAID through the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and private donors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Fund, Boehringer Ingelheim, UNICEF, Glaxo Smith Kline, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Jewelers for Children, and others. Under USAID funding, CTA scaled-up PMTCT programs in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV and AIDS, working in 17 countries to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute strategic and targeted global advocacy activities to bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide.