Lesotho to Expand HIV and Tuberculosis Programs
Maseru, Lesotho – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced today that it is signing two grant agreements with the Ministry of Finance of Lesotho totaling US$17 million, to allow Lesotho to expand prevention and treatment of HIV and multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world, at 24 percent, and the fourth highest estimated TB incidence. The TB-HIV co-infection rates are the fifth highest in the world and multidrug resistant TB is a growing challenge.
“We are very pleased to be here today signing these grants,” said Dr. Leketekete Victor Ketso, Minister of Finance. “We expect to make great progress in the fight against the diseases through these and other grants. The Global Fund has also invited Lesotho as an interim applicant with US$25 million for HIV and AIDS under its new funding model, which will allow for greater predictability of funding and more strategic investment.”
Dr. Pinkie Rosemary Manamolela, Minister of Health, added: “The HIV grant signed today will target most vulnerable populations such as women and girls, people living with HIV, and youth out of school, in order to reduce the incidence of new infections and increase universal access to HIV counseling and testing services.”
Most at risk populations will be reached with a basic package of prevention interventions, such as prevention messages, condom distribution, management of sexually-transmitted infections, and referrals to health facilities. They will be implemented in partnership with civil society organizations and community support groups.
The Tuberculosis grant will seek to address MDR/XDR-TB, TB/HIV co-infection, expand high quality TB treatment (DOTs), and engage communities in TB control.
“Lesotho is making significant efforts to address the emerging problem of multiple TB drug resistance strains and the serious challenge of HIV/TB co-infection,” said Cynthia Mwase, Regional Manager of the Southern and Eastern Africa Team of the Global Fund. “However, there is still more work to do with treatment success and completion rates for new and previously treated cases. The Global Fund is pleased to be able to support Lesotho to work towards achieving global targets.”
Lesotho has made progress towards the reduction of the HIV epidemic. Incidence of new HIV infections declined by 16% between 2008 and 2011. Evidence shows that 97percent of new infections are driven by multiple and concurrent partnerships.
The Global Fund has disbursed US$123 million to support the fight against HIV and TB in Lesotho since 2003. There are currently 77,000 people on ART, amounting to 61 percent of the estimated number of people in need, and 246 confirmed MDR-TB cases on treatment. The Global Fund is the main financer of second line TB treatment in Lesotho.
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