The AIDS Health Foundation (AHF Lesotho) invited members of the Lesotho parliament for a tour of its Katlehong facilities in Maseru to get a closer feel of real life health issues handled at the health centre.
“We found it very pivotal to invite the members of the Senate, the National Assembly as well as leaders in the committees and organizations that directly deal with health matters,” Mile said, AHF Country Program Manager, Mapaballo ‘Mile during the tour this week.
She revealed that while they were generally satisfied with the impact of their work, they often encountered a number of challenges including that of patients who defaulted on their medical treatment.
“Over and above their disappearing acts, when we try to make house call follow-ups we discover that some of them deliberately provide us with false addresses and contact details,” She said.
‘Mile also noted that most males reported for medical attention too late, often when nothing much can be done to save them.
“Unlike women, men often come to the clinic late when their health has reached very critical levels and it often results in fatalities.”
‘Mile then noted that there was also an alarming spike in new infections of HIV/AIDS among young girls than their male counterparts.
“It is a mystery as to why there is such a high number of young girls getting new infections at a higher rate than that of boys. A factor that could be attributable to this is that sometimes as orphans, young girls who are forced to be immediate breadwinners due to lacking any skills the best way they figure would help them create a stream of income is to participate in sex work,” she shared.
She also listed peer pressure as a contributing factor.
“Another factor could be peer pressure, especially social media standards. Girls may wish to see themselves living lavishly like their peers, whom they see on social media and may figure that having ‘sugar daddies’ would be a quicker route to living that life,” she added.
An organisation which originates from the United States, AHF began operating in Lesotho in 2013 and works in correlation with 22 other health facilities in the country found in five districts
Beyond serving patients who are affected by HIV and AIDS, AHF also assists patients with other health services. As of 10 September 2022, AHF recorded a staggering 43,063 active patients in care.
AHF Lesotho, also runs youth led programs, namely Teen Clubs, Girls ACT and Young People’s Program (YPP). As AHF describes these initiatives they mention that “Teen Clubs are safe spaces for adolescents living with HIV to access ART and other medical treatment when a need arises within a setting which is user friendly.”
Girls ACT empowers girls and young women to stay healthy and thrive through HIV and STI prevention and reduction of unplanned pregnancies. It ensures HIV positive girls to stay on treatment and foster leadership and confidence for girls and young women to support each other, strengthen fundamental life skills and develop community activism. While young people’s program target both boys, girls, young men and young women with empowerment through provision of health education and services to reduce new HIV infections aiming at the age group 10 to 24 at community level.”
AHF operates through different partnerships to provide HIV services in Lesotho. The services target group is Lesotho Mounted Police Services, their extended families and the general public. It works in close relation with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Police and Public Safety, Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (LENEPWHA), and church denominations with health facilities supported by AHF.