MOH launches Situation Room

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Limpho Sello

THE Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki, on Tuesday commended the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the decision to launch the HIV and Health Situation Room saying this would improve the data collection systems in the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Mr Moleleki was speaking at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru at the launch of the HIV and Health Situation Room that was also attended by British supermodel, Naomi Campbell.

The HIV and Health Situation Room is a health information system that will enable the Ministry of Health to know the statistics of people tested for HIV, TB and other diseases around the country. The information system will help create a comprehensive picture and understanding of Lesotho’s epidemics.

It was developed by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNAIDS and it is supported by the government of Sweden, which contributed resources as part of its continued support to improving monitoring and evaluation of the global AIDS epidemic.

Mr Moleleki said the innovation would be vital in the country’s fight against HIV and AIDS likening it to a military situation room.

“In a war, the situation room is where you plan the survival of the people,” Mr Moleleki said.

“The situation room is crucial for us because it means the survival of Basotho.”

Mr Moleleki said he was touched by the UNAIDS executive director Mr Michel Sidibe’s initiative to bring Ms Campbell.

“I’m deeply moved by Dr Sidibe who has come with people that we don’t see on the flesh every day. The fact that you (Ms Campbell) have come all the way from London, proves your love for us.

“We do not get to see a super model every day in this part of the world.”

For her part, Ms Campbell who is also a philanthropist and activist for UNAIDS, said although the country improving its fight against HIV, adolescent girls were not being reached adding that there as evidenced by high infections in the age group.

She lamented that teenage pregnancies and child marriages remain high while men are still reluctant to get tested for HIV.

“It is true that we are seeing progress but the reality is that we are not reaching adolescent girls yet there is a high level of infection among them,” Ms Campbell said.

“Teenage pregnancies and child marriages remain high while men are still not being tested.”

She said the situation room would help Lesotho in the fight against HIV and its bid to reach the 90/90/90 targets towards which she said Lesotho has progressed by reaching 77/ 90/ 88.

The United States Ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales, expressed gratitude to the partners of the project among them, PEPFAR.

Ms Gonzales said on Monday she joined Mr Sidibe at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Maseru to witness the work being done at the Adolescent Corners and Men’s Clinic. She said the sites were vital in reaching young people who are still lagging behind in terms of HIV knowledge and status.

“These innovative sites are helping to reach young people and men, two populations who are lagging behind in knowledge of HIV status and enrollment on treatment.

“I am excited that the preliminary data shows that sites like this are helping to change that narrative. Thank you so much to the Ministry of Health for your collaboration on these important and innovative sites,” Ms Gonzales said.

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