Minister Power highlights importance of Ireland's support for HIV/AIDS initiatives on Lesotho visit.16/3/10
Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, T.D., today visited a remote mountain clinic in Lesotho which is offering life-saving treatment to people living with HIV and AIDS with the support of Irish Aid.
Minister Power, who is visiting Lesotho to oversee the implementation of the Irish Aid programme, met patients and staff at the Bobete Clinic. This is one of seven clinics in remote, mountainous areas which are supported by Irish Aid and the Clinton Foundation in partnership with Lesotho’s Ministry of Health. A further two clinics will be opened by the end of 2011.
Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, with approximately 23% of the adult population living with HIV.
Speaking after his visit to Bobete, Minister Power said:
“Today, I witnessed the impact of the Irish Aid’s investment in this highly-effective programme to provide treatment and care to thousands of men, women and children who are living with HIV and AIDS.
“These clinics are in remote, inaccessible areas of Lesotho. Before this programme was started, many of the people being treated today would have had their lives cut short by the scourge of HIV because they would not have been able to access treatment and care.
“It was heartening to hear the stories of the patients who can now access testing and counselling services; receive the drugs they need in order to live a more normal life and be provided with the nutritional support which is vitally important for the treatment to work effectively. This is an integrated and effective programme which has transformed the lives of thousands of people in these mountain areas.
“Addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a priority across the Irish Aid programme and €3.85 million has been allocated for 2010 for support to HIV/AIDS initiatives in Lesotho.”
Since its inception in June 2006, almost 35,000 people have received counselling and testing for HIV, more than 7,500 HIV positive patients have been enrolled into the programme for care and almost 5,000 people have been put on treatment for HIV and AIDS (ART).
Minister Power said: “These tangible improvements have been achieved thanks to the support of the Irish people and our targeted and effective partnerships with the Government and the Clinton Foundation."
During his two-day visit to Lesotho, Minister Power also visited the Mountain Orphan and Vulnerable Child Empowerment (MOVE) Project managed by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The project is designed to improve the diet and living conditions of orphaned children, caregivers, and their households in four of Lesotho’s rural health clinic areas.
Through the development of a ‘homestead garden’, families can grow much of their own food and improve and vary their diet. This is complemented by training in good nutrition and dietary practices and, in some cases, in marketing surplus produce to provide a cash income.
“To date, Irish Aid has contributed €620,000 to the MOVE project, enabling over 5,500 orphaned and vulnerable children to access these essential support services,” Minister Power said
Minister Power also visited the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) hangar. MAF is Christian lay-missionary organisation which, in collaboration with the Lesotho Flying Doctor Service, provides pilots and aircraft to service the remote mountain clinics on a daily basis.
For further information, please contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Officer, Irish Aid, the Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4082653 or 087-9099975
16 March 2010
Note for the editor
- Minister Power is on an official field visit to two of Irish Aid’s priority countries:LesothoandSouth Africa. After leaving Lesotho today (March 16), he will spend three days in South Africa, visiting HIV and water and sanitation programmes which are supported by Irish Aid. He will also meet Irish Aid partners, Government Ministers and Irish missionaries.
- Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs. For more information visit http://www.irishaid.gov.ie
- Established in 1975,LesothoisIreland’s longest running bilateral programme. The programme, administered through the Embassy of Ireland inMaseru, is focused on health, education, water, governance and HIV/AIDS. Irish Aid’s Country Programme budget for 2010 is €10.7million
- Lesothois currently ranked at 156 out of 182 countries on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index. An estimated 43% of the population live below the poverty line, with 29% being classified as ‘very poor’.
- Since 2007, Irish Aid has provided over €500,000 in support to civil society organisations working in Lesotho, in addition to the programme budget. These include Skillshare International Ireland, Camara Education, the ‘Twinning the Kingdoms’ (an initiative between Lesotho and the ‘Kingdom’ of Kerry) and ACARA. There are also a number of inter-school links involving Clongowes, Schull Community College and Pallaskenry Salesian College.