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Naomi Campbell tours Queen II

by Lesotho Times
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Keiso Mohloboli

RENOWNED British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, on Tuesday toured the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Adolescents Centre and Male Clinic on the side-lines of the launch of the HIV and Health Situation Room in Maseru.

The tour was part of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and the government’s collaboration to offer youth friendly health services reaching adolescents, LGBTI communities and young men.

UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sedibe, led a team of partners, among them Ms Campbell who is also a UNAIDS activist and philanthropist, on a tour of Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Adolescents Centre and Male clinic.

Among the other partners were UNAIDS Regional Director Catherine Sozi, US Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales, Minister of Health Nkaku Kabi and his deputy ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli.

The Ministry of Health chief accounting officer Monaphathi Maraka, Egpaf representatives, Elizabeth Glazer representatives, PEPFAR representatives and other health stakeholders were also part of a delegation.

Speaking during the tour, Ms Campbell indicated that world leaders are worried that progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS for adolescents has dropped and is lagging behind.

She said it was important for Lesotho to maintain sustainability of such centres as tools aiming to end the second leading cause of death among young people.

“Children and young people should be the first to benefit from the progress we have made in ending the epidemic, not the last,” Ms Campbell said.

“I am glad to have come to Lesotho to meet with such beautiful and amazing young women.”

She explained that young children and adolescents should be reached by health providers because “our efforts to end adolescent AIDS or HIV free generation will not be achieved without them.

Adolescent Centre social worker, Limpho Sebotsa, said the centre aims to improve young people’s life chances because new opportunities come with new risks.

Ms Sebotsa said the centre was unique in focusing on adolescence as a critical life stage.

“This includes the transition from childhood into adolescence and the transition into adult life,” Ms Sebotsa said.

Ms Sebotsa took the delegation on a guided tour and presented to them the activities available for adolescents at the centre.

“Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Adolescent Centre offers HIV testing, Family planning, counselling, sexual reproductive services, psycho-social support, peer support groups, antenatal care and immunisation,” Ms Sebotsa said.

“Most of our young HIV and AIDS infected patients spend their free time and weekends at the centre to avoid judgement and discrimination by their peers.”

She also explained that all young men who do not feel comfortable to access services from the centre have a freedom to come out and go to the male clinic just a kilometre away from the adolescent centre.

Male clinic nurse, Nazeem Tarr, said by nature, men like isolating themselves and are reluctant to go for health services.

Referred to as ‘Khotla’ (A Basotho spot near the kraal where men gather together to discuss manly issues), Mr Tarr said the government had to come up with a medical set-up that would be more comfortable and attractive to men.

He said, men are secretive and do not like discussing their health issues with women which is the reason why ‘Khotla’s’ is ran by male staff.

“Men like isolating themselves, which can be blamed on Basotho culture. They are also a busy and impatient group which does not go for health services because of huge lines at hospitals and clinics,” he said.

He said in their set-up, they ensure that men do not queue for services and whenever a queue forms, they speed up processes so that the men do not get impatient.

Services offered ‘Khotla’ include HIV testing, counselling, antiretroviral therapy, nutritional assessment, management and support, out-patient services such as blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring and management and tuberculosis screening. It also handles sexually transmitted diseases screening and management, mental health and substance abuse screening, sexual reproductive health and PMTCT services and management of sexual disorders and VMMC referrals for couples.

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