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Jhpiego joins forces with media

By Liapeng Raliengoane

MASERU – In an effort to provide information as well as raise awareness to media professionals on Jhpiego and its services, Jhpiego Lesotho held a Media Debrief Session with Journalists about its general projects supporting the Ministry of Health (MoH) and their impact on the communities they have served.

Speaking at the event, Jhpiego Lesotho Country Director, Dr. Nyikadzino Mahachi, expressed that their work is incomplete if the media is not engaged. Dr. Mahachi said that since it was founded in 1973, Jhpiego has been innovative in their approach to save the lives of women and families worldwide. He further indicated that Jhpiego’s mandate also expanded to addressing reproductive health policies and guidelines as well as to support the strengthening of health systems.

Dr. Mahachi also noted that in Lesotho, Jhpiego started its operations in 2012 and it has since been partnering with the MoH. “This year marks a milestone as Jhpiego is celebrating 50 years’ anniversary globally and 10 years’ anniversary in Lesotho” he said.

Talking about the THEBE program at the session, the THEBE program Director, Tohlang Ngakana, said the program is currently investigating households, schools and Correctional Services contacts of newly diagnosed index Tuberculosis (TB) patients by TB contact tracers. Ngakana said this will help increase the opportunity for early TB case detection and the initiation of treatment.

“Jhpiego has taken the lead role in supporting the MoH with TB contact tracing to improve TB case detection, targeting all populations that are at risk of acquiring TB. The objective of this project is to strengthen TB Contact Tracing to identify TB cases and eligible children to put under TB Preventive Treatment (TPT) and follow up on miners, ex-miners, inmates and students,” Ngakana informed.

Ngakana further disclosed that there was a 21% decline in TB incidents in the country, from 788 in 2015 to 654 in 2019.

Reaching Impact, Saturation and Epidemic Control (RISE) Senior Technical Advisor ‘Malisebo Mphale said in 2020, Jhpiego, with the funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worked on addressing Covid-19 pandemic. Mphale said that RISE assisted in the planning and roll out of national vaccine plans as well as ensuring that health care workers are prepared to implement and monitor this plan providing focused and clinically relevant capacity building for clinicians providing Covid-19 case management, strengthening the oxygen ecosystem and supporting health care workers in oxygen conservation, rationalization and non-invasive respiratory care.

For his part, KHANYA Technical Director Rajab Kakaire revealed that Jhpiego in partnership with the MoH is providing comprehensive health services for HIV prevention and is also addressing the national HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. And as thus, Jhpiego provides voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention on different supported districts.

Kakaire highlighted another project called Maximizing Options to Advance Informed Choice (MOSAIC) which is meant for women and girls at substantial risk of HIV infection. The technical director further indicated that the MOSAIC project is a 5-year global project that is funded by PEPFAR through USAID (2021-2026) and has a vision that after five years, women in sub –Saharan Africa will have access to multiple, effective biomedical prevention options that meet their changing needs and desires.

He said that MOSAIC advances the access to and uptake within a multi-product market which includes options such as oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (oral PrEP) and the dapivirine ring, also called PrEP ring.