MASERU – The Ministry of Health launched a three-year saving lives and livelihoods programme under the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in partnership with Red Cross, Amref Health Africa and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Lesotho country office. Delivering his keynote address, Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle, said Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of partnerships and the strategic importance of institutions in Africa, particularly the disease control institute.
Sekatle said Africa CDC has always been with Lesotho during the pandemic period when the accuracy of vaccination records was questioned. “You were here with us when the availability and access to vaccine was a big problem. You are now here with us when the process of vaccination seems to be stagnating and the demand for uptake of vaccines is questioned at the critical time when we’re just about to reach the threshold of Covid-19,” said Sekatle.
Sekatle also noted that the ministry is grateful for Africa CDC support to Lesotho for the launch of the ‘Saving Lives and Livelihood’ programme implementation. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude towards partners and appealed that Africa should not be left behind in the fight against pandemics. Sekatle noted it is critical for Africa to establish the national public health institute that will act as a strategic institute that will prevent, detect and respond to pandemics so that Africa is never again left behind.
Health director Dr ’Nyane Letsie said a few months ago the ministry had a short project with Africa CDC which was aimed at addressing issues of Covid-19 data, particularly the vaccination. She said at the time that the ministry had a backlog due to Covid-19, the Africa CDC assisted the ministry with the needed equipment such as gargets and human resources.
“We needed to reach out to our communities with risk communication and community engagement and we needed facilities to do the work. It is in that short project where we had 52 data clerks, laptops, tablets and cameras,” Letsie explained.
Letsie said the project focused on low performing districts and they will be reached with strategies that are people-centred and a lot of evidence examined in choosing such districts, which are: Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek, Berea and Thaba-Tseka.
She said the project is noble since it has demonstrated that despite limited resources, the ministry still manages to save lives. The Africa CDC Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Dr Lul Riek, said: “The purpose of this launch is indeed in line with the Africa CDC Covid-19 vaccine strategy to leave no single country behind and to support all member states at their points of need, including Lesotho.”
He said the strategy includes vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible 1.3 billion people on the African continent. He then noted that Africa CDC is honoured to launch the implementation of the flagship partnership known as ‘saving lives and livelihoods’ in Lesotho. Riek said now that the programme has been launched, the Africa CDC will now align with the country’s priorities and goals to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the eligible population.
He noted that this programme will include a strong focus on Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) to enable the citizens, especially youth and the rural population to understand the safety benefits of vaccination.