Govt to revive AIDS Commission

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Pascalinah Kabi

GOVERNMENT has undertaken to re-establish the National AIDS Commission (NAC) “by the end of this year” to coordinate programmes aimed at eradicating the epidemic.

Addressing a press conference in Maseru yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Kimetso Mathaba, said the commission would soon be reopened with the recruitment of key personnel already in progress.

“Efforts to ensure that NAC is up and running effectively are at an advanced stage,” Mr Mathaba said.

“The positions of chief executive officer and two directors have already been advertised, while the appointment of 10 board members is being finalised.”

NAC had been responsible for developing and coordinating programmes to combat HIV/AIDS, but was closed in 2011 following a damning report that it had become a burden to taxpayers.

Before NAC was disbanded, the country’s HIV/AIDS-prevalence rate was third in the world behind Swaziland and Botswana respectively, although it was already at 23 percent.

However, Lesotho has since leapfrogged Botswana into second position, while Swaziland leads the pack at 26 percent and Botswana is now at 19 percent.

Mr Mathaba said cabinet had discussed amendments to the National AIDS Commission Act (2005) to streamline its operations and prevent  problems that led to its disbandment.

“Due to loopholes in the Act, a large chunk of the commission’s funds were allocated to salaries. The proposed amendments will address such problems,” he said.

The amendment bill, Mr Mathaba said, had already been drafted, adding it would soon be tabled in parliament.

Meanwhile, Lesotho next Tuesday join the rest of the global community in commemorating World AIDS Day.

According to Mr Mathaba, commemorations would be held under the theme ‘Ending AIDS Towards Sustainable Development’, with a peace march from Majoe-a-Litšoene to Borokhoaneng.

“On the same day, the main celebrations will be held at Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation, with the hospital showcasing its achievements since it was officially opened 10 years ago,” he said.

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