THE KINGDOM OF LESOTHO

STATEMENT

BY

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI
PRIME MINISTER OF THE KINGDOM OF LESOTHO

TO THE

TWENTY-SIXTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HIV/AIDS

25th JUNE, 2001
NEW YORK



 
MR PRESIDENT
EXCELLENCIES
DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

This special session on HIV/AIDS offers a unique opportunity for us to assess the global impact of the AIDS pandemic and the commitment we made at the Millennium Summit to intensify our actions in fighting this formidable scourge. We, in Africa, are also further recommitting ourselves to the Abuja Declaration adopted at the Abuja Summit in April 2001, as well as the declaration "HIV/AIDS the greatest leadership challenge of our time" adopted at the African development forum which was organised by the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa in December 2000.

Mr President

In recognition of the challenges posed to our sub-continent and the need for even more intensive efforts at the national level, the Government of Lesotho has declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster and as such it is being addressed in all public forums. The Lesotho Aids Programme Coordinating Authority has been established within the Prime Minister's office to oversee the national multi-sectoral response as envisaged in the national strategic plan on HIV/AIDS.
Lesotho fully subscribes to the target of 25% reduction by the year 2003, in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the 15 to 24 years age group. Our efforts at achieving this are slowly beginning to bear fruit as evidenced by the high level of knowledge and awareness about HIV/AIDS, which is now estimated at 95%. Major changes are however yet to be witnessed in behaviour. To this end, we are reorienting and strengthening our communications efforts towards sustainable behaviour change with special emphasis on young people. All blood for transfusion is screened and we are working on modalities for the extension of voluntary counselling and testing as well as prevention of mother to child transmission.

We provide drugs for the treatment of opportunistic infections and will soon reach a decision on the availability and accessibility of anti- retroviral therapy. We however need support for strengthening our infrastructure, access to drugs and human resource capacity. The provision of quality home and community based care is also a top priority.

Mr President

We believe it is a basic human right of both the infected and affected to have access to quality care and support at all levels of our service delivery. We are thus making every effort to ensure that the human rights of both the infected and affected are respected.
 
To this end, we are focussing on removing the stigma attached to the disease and, through the on-going law reform process, also removing the gender disparities that negatively impact on the capacity of women and girls to take control of their sexual health. We acknowledge that social empowerment at community and household levels will have to be intensified for the laws to have the desired effect on the day-to-day lives of women.

The rapid increase in the number of orphans has prompted us to direct efforts at ensuring the protection and maintenance of their access to health, education, food and shelter. We are thus reviewing our child and social welfare policies as well as mobilizing support for and of the concerned sectors.

Mr President

For all the outcomes mentioned above to become a reality, resource availability is key. The Government of Lesotho has already decreed that every government sector should allocate a minimum of 2% of its budget for AIDS control activities. We are also planning to hold a donor roundtable conference in October 2001 to obtain support for our national HIV/AIDS strategic plan.

Mr President,

We should all be aware that any anticipated changes in the status of HIV/AIDS will not be realised if the constraints and underlying factors including poverty, food availability and access, stigma, infrastructure, human resource capacity and drugs availability, are not addressed. We thus urge the donor community to support country efforts in addressing these issues in a coordinated manner.

My country supports the initiative by the Secretary General of the United Nations to establish a global fund for HIV/AIDS. We further request the donor community to honour the agreed target of an allocation of 0.7% of their GDP to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA).

In conclusion, Mr President

We are committed to an eventual HIV/AIDS--free Lesotho. We will continue our co-operation and collaboration nationally, regionally and globally so that we may together win this fight.