Campbell pledges to help Lesotho

Campbell pledges to help Lesotho

MASERU – BRITISH model, Naomi Campbell, has pledged to work with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to roll back the HIV and TB pandemics in Lesotho. Campbell was speaking at the launch of an innovative new tool to track progress and identify gaps in HIV, TB and maternal health programming on Tuesday.

The tool is called the HIV and Health Situation Room to Fast-Track Progress Towards Ending AIDS.
Campbell has used her influence as a supermodel and actress to raise funds to help victims of natural disasters and change the lives of the poor.
A Londoner who became a star at 15, Campbell has graced the covers of more than 500 magazines, featured in campaigns for Burberry, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino.

Campbell has also taken part in fundraising and charity work in South Africa and around the globe.
She began charity work with Nelson Mandela in 1993 and in 1997 Mandela named her Honorary Granddaughter for her contributions to charity.
In 2005 she established Fashion For Relief and hosted its first charity fashion show to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Since its conception Fashion For Relief has presented shows in New York, London, Cannes, Moscow, Mumbai and Dar es Salaam and has raised millions of US dollars for various causes.

“This is my first time in Lesotho but not the last time,” Campbell said.
“I will be back to help the UNAIDS accomplish its mission of reducing diseases in Lesotho,” she said.
“I encourage everyone in here to make sure that it is successful as it will help the entire country.”

“I am willing to do everything I can to help as Lesotho is one of the countries with (one of the highest rates of) HIV and other infections,” she added.
Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki said the new tool is going to help a lot as everyone will be able to access data so that when doing budgets they should know the exact number of infected people.

Moleleki bemoaned the lack of reliable data of patients living with HIV, TB and women who are helped through various maternal health programmes.
Moleleki said Campbell is living what she was singing in the 1970s with Bob Marley in “Is This Love?”
“For the fact that you are here with us today, yes this is love,” Moleleki said.

The second prominent person who launched the programme was Michel Sedibe, a long-standing champion of a people-centred approach to health and development and a strong advocate for social justice.

Sedibe, a Malian, is the UNAIDS Executive Secretary since 2009, and is also the Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations.
Sedibe currently chairs the H6, a partnership that unites and leverages the mandates of six UN agencies to deliver on an integrated agenda for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.

Under his leadership a number of countries adopted the Fast-Track approach through which the achievement of a set of measurable targets by 2020 will set the world on course to end AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sedibe’s work has earned him widespread recognition.

He has been an awarded honorary doctorate from Tuskegee University, Clark University, the University of British Columbia and KwaZulu-Natal University.
He has an honorary professorship from Stellenbosch University.
He was awarded the Emory President’s Medal in recognition of his work as a passionate champion for health and humanity.
In 2012 he was named as one of the 50 most influential Africans by the Africa Report and in 2009 as one of 50 personalities of the year by the French newspaper Le Monde.

Moleleki said Sedibe “should understand that the situation room is very important for us as it means survival of Basotho”.
Sedibe said the Lesotho HIV and Health Situation Room shows in real-time service delivery data, producing a comprehensive picture and understanding of Lesotho’s HIV epidemic.

Sedibe and Campbell are seen as international figures who can easily throw their weight behind Lesotho’s push to reverse HIV and TB pandemics.
Lesotho is ranked number two in the world in HIV and TB statistics after eSwatini, the new official name for Swaziland.
Health Minister Nkaku Kabi said the programme enables quick feedback on results at the national and community levels and identifies bottlenecks in access to health care services.

“The Lesotho HIV and Health Situation Room is a major step forward for Lesotho in terms of getting the evidence we need to focus interventions in the right locations and on the right populations,” Kabi said.
“It will help us deliver more efficient and timely services and improve the health of our people,” he said.
Kabi said the latest data from the Lesotho HIV and health situation room shows that Lesotho is close to having 200 000 people on HIV treatment.
“New HIV infections have fallen by 45 percent between 2000 and 2017,” he said.

United States Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales said the United States places great value on collaboration and engagement with UNAIDS and other multilateral institutions to maximise resources and impact in response to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.
“The United States is the largest contributor to the budget of UNAIDS, and contributed nearly $68 million (about M858.8 million) in 2016,” Gonzales said.

“The long-standing collaboration between UNAIDS, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund helps ensure the goals of saving lives, achieving epidemic control, enhancing health security and increasing global burden-sharing,” she said.
She also said the United States through PEPFAR has from 2004 to 2017 committed more than $70 billion (about M882 million) worldwide and over $384 million (about M4.8 billion) to the bilateral HIV response in Lesotho.

Nkheli Liphoto

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