UNFPA applauds integrated SRHR services along Maseru Bridge

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UNFPA applauds integrated SRHR services along Maseru Bridge
UNFPA applauds integrated SRHR services along Maseru Bridge

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative Dr. Marc Derveeuw has toured the Maseru Border in effort to get a glimpse of how UNFPA and Lesotho Planned Parenthood

Association’s (LPPA) Along the borders Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program is going. The tour that took place on Thursday had among other activities, interactions with Maseru

Wellness Centre Peer educators, Nurses, other stakeholders involved and visiting of hot spot areas along the border. Dr. Derveeuw conveyed gratitude to

UNFPA and LPPA for their partnership in Along the borders Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program, which is meant to provide integrated services of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to Key

Population groups (Sex workers, Long distance Truck drivers, LGBTQI, Inmates, and Men having sex with other men) and the community around the border. He also expressed delight over the

progress and measures taken in effort to care for key populations as HIV infection is high in their group. He further congratulated the Government of Lesotho and all involved stakeholders for working hand in hand in the evolution

of the project. However, UNFPA Country Representative expressed concern over young people who are being infected with HIV. He indicated that a lot of attention is focused on distribution of Anti-Retroviral

drugs (ARVs) which are very expensive. He urged for resort to behavioral change. LPPA Youth Officer Lebeoana Kholokholo indicated that through Maseru Wellness Centre, Along the borders Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program tackles

issues around key populations by maintaining and containing infections, providing family planning methods, distributing condoms and providing information on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).

Kholokholo further specified that Covid-19 affected the project’s progress due to the fact that some of the clients could not access the border due to restrictions, normal day-to-day job activities

which were disrupted and national Covid-19 lockdowns. He further said the program is implemented in Maseru, Maputsoe and Mafeteng borders. Maseru Bridge-based UNFPA and LPPA’s

Along the borders Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program Peer Educator Thapelo Maja revealed that as peer educators, they provide HIV/AIDS and STI prevention

information. They also distribute condoms at hot spot areas, navigate clients and organize campaigns. Maja said their biggest challenge while working along the Maseru border is of limited access to the border

because of measures imposed to restrict movements. Nonetheless, registered successes include a decline in unplanned pregnancies and clients’ knowledge about Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

which is a pill taken daily by people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it, to prevent HIV infection. According to LePHIA 2020 (Lesotho

Population- Based HIV impact Assessment), HIV prevalence by District: Maseru 23.6%, Mafeteng 24.0%, Mohale’s Hoek 23.5%, Leribe 23.6%, Berea 21.5%, Quthing

23.9%, Butha-Buthe 18.8%, Mokhotlong 18.9%, Qacha’s Nek 19.8% and Thaba-Tseka

23.1%. HIV prevalence by age and sex: among adults, ages 15 years and older, HIV prevalence ranged from 3.9% for older

adolescent girls aged 15-19 years to 46.5% for women aged 40-45 years, and from 2.5% for older adolescent boys aged 15-19 years to 40.6 for men aged 45-49

years. HIV prevalence was consistently higher among women than men in each 5-year age group from ages 20-24 years through 40-44 years. Among adults, HIV prevalence varied geographically across Lesotho, ranging from 18.8% in Butha-Buthe to 24.0% in Mafeteng.

Along the

borders Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program is UNFPA and LPPA’s program that focuses on offering Integrated SRHR services along Lesotho’s three borders of Maseru,

Maputsoe and Mafeteng as these are the busiest borders which are deemed highly penetrable and catalytic to transmission of new HIV infections. The project is

targeting long distance truck drivers, migrants, youth and key populations along these borders. In other news, the United Nations joint regional program launched 2gether4SRHR in 2008.

A program supported by Swedish International Development Agency (SEDA) and implemented by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNFPA, the United Nations International

Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO). The goal of the project is to improve the sexual and reproductive health of all

people in East and Southern Africa, Lesotho is included. 2gether4SRHR aims to fast-track the attainment of the 2030 targets of Sustainable Development Goal SDG 3, improve the health and well-being for all at all ages, and SDG 5, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

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