‘Local leaders key to fight disease burden’

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LOCAL Government and Chieftainship Minister, Dr ‘Matumelo Pontšo Sekatle
LOCAL Government and Chieftainship Minister, Dr ‘Matumelo Pontšo Sekatle

Pascalinah Kabi

LOCAL Government and Chieftainship Minister, Dr ‘Matumelo Pontšo Sekatle, says Lesotho’s health challenges can only be addressed through concerted efforts by local leadership structures.

Dr Sekatle made the remarks yesterday in a meeting in which she introduced the consultants that will assist in the implementation of the Prime Minister’s National Health Reform Programme to leaders under her ministry’s ambit.

Global firm Boston Consulting will provide health reform expertise while the Pitsong Institute of Implementation Research will coordinate the programme.

The Prime Minister’s National Health Reform Programme seeks to engage formal and informal leadership structures in fighting the HIV/AIDS scourge and tuberculosis (TB) as well as maternal and child mortalities.

The minister said local leadership structures such as district administrators, councillors and secretaries were strategically placed to implement the Prime Minister’s National Health Reform Programme.

Lesotho’s HIV-prevalence rate increased from 23 percent to 25 percent according to the Demographic and Health Survey report released last month. The Kingdom is ranked first in TB infections, with 852 people in every 100 000  said to be suffering from the highly infectious disease  according to the World Health Organisation’s 2015 Global TB Report.

Dr Sekatle said the health crisis had compelled Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to call on all the country’s leadership structures to join the fight.

“The prime minister has called on all of us to save Basotho by fighting against these diseases. It is therefore important for all of us to understand our role in this national health reform programme,” she said.

“You have a responsibility to save your electors by making sure they are healthy.”

The minister said the local government leaders should alert health practitioners about HIV-positive people in their areas who default on antiretroviral treatment.

“The prime minister launched the Test and Treat programme, under which people are immediately put on treatment after testing positive. “However, some people stop taking their medication once they feel better and it is your responsibility to ensure that people don’t default.”

She added that countries such as Rwanda that implemented national health reform programmes successfully fended off HIV/AIDS, TB and other diseases.

For his part, Pitsong Institute of Implementation Research Director Mpopo Tšoele said the programme would ensure that leaders at all levels would be accountable.

“Many efforts have been made in this country to address the health challenges but have not yielded the desired results. The prime minister is simply saying someone must account for the needless deaths of Basotho,” Mr Tšoele said.

The premier, he said, was well aware that people cannot be held accountable unless they are capacitated and know their responsibilities in the health sector.

“It is against this background that the PM is introducing this programme and has engaged consultants to train each one of us to know our responsibilities and how to discharge them so that we can all account for our actions,” said Mr Tšoele.

“It is the premier’s desire to see every Mosotho playing his or her role in the health reform programme from the PM, parliament, cabinet, media and local leadership structures.”

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