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Iran drug report unnerves opposition



MASERU-Reports that the government could buy antiretroviral drugs from Iran have unnerved opposition politicians who fear the move could anger the country’s biggest donor, the United States.
The US has slapped economic sanctions on Iran which it sees as a sponsor of terrorism. The two countries do not see eye-to-eye since they felt out in 1979.
Health Minister Nkaku Kabi said he had since dispatched a team of negotiators to Iran, Kuwait and India to explore if Lesotho could buy ARVs from those countries.
The Democratic Congress (DC) party deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, said the US has a long relationship with Lesotho.
He says the US government has done a lot in Lesotho in the fight against HIV/AIDs.

Letsosa said Lesotho could not be a friend to both the US and Iran especially when these two countries do not have good diplomatic relations.
“In short, the relationship between Lesotho and the US can deteriorate drastically (if Lesotho befriends Iran),” Letsosa said.
He said if this could happen, relations between Lesotho and the US could become strained.

The National Independent Party (NIP) leader, Kimetso Mathaba, said the US is a superpower and almost all countries adhere to its terms and conditions.
He says if Lesotho could decide to work with Iran in the provision of ARVs that could pose a serious danger for Lesotho.
“Lesotho has a long history with the US. If this happens, it could affect the relationship of the two countries,” Mathaba says.
“Undeniably,” Mathaba said, “the results could be a bitter pill for Lesotho to swallow.”

He insisted that there is no other country than the US that has helped Lesotho in the fight against HIV/AIDs.
Mathaba said for Lesotho to qualify for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact I, the US gave them some conditions to satisfy especially in the Land Act 2010.
“There were some amendments that we were supposed to make in that Act so that we could qualify for the money,” he said.
He said he believes even in the case of Compact II, there are still certain conditions that the country will have to satisfy so that it could qualify.
“Such conditions usually remain a secret to the incumbent government,” Mathaba, a former government minister, said.
“Americans are very strict in whatever they do,” he said.

He said Lesotho worked nicely with India with a provision of kidney dialysis machines.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, said should Lesotho opt to work with Iran with the provision of ARVs, “this would definitely soil up the long relationship between Lesotho and the US”.

The vast majority of USAID’s work in Lesotho is related to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme.
Just in February this year, PEPFAR pledged M1.2 billion in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The opposition politicians say their worries stem from how wealthy countries, companies and individual businessmen felt the brunt of the US’s anger for their support for Iran.
For example, in 2014 the US put over M70 million (US$5 million) bounty on a Chinese businessman, Li Fangwei, for allegedly being instrumental in evading sanctions against Iran’s missile programme.

In the same year, French bank BNP Paribas agreed to pay over M40 billion (US$8.9 billion) fine for violating sanctions against Iran.
Germany’s Commerzbank, France’s Credit Agricole and Swiss UBS were also fined.
In 2015, Germany’s largest bank Deutsche Bank was fined over M1.2 billion (US$258 million) for violating sanctions against Iran, Libya and Syria.
In May this year, the US warned banks, investors, traders, and companies of the United Kingdom which trade with Iran through the Instex system that they will be punished somehow by Washington.
In August 2018 when the Trump administration imposed the sanctions, it warned that “anyone doing business with Iran will not be able to do business with the United States”.

Majara Molupe

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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