South Africa

The Lesotho project - 2006

This feature section is a regularly updated project feature for MSF to bring viewers closer to a new MSF project.

Listen to Rachel Cohen, Lesotho Project Coordinator, describe the first stage of work for the new project.

"The South African doctor who is now working here said that easily 75% of the people in the hospital were HIV related even if it were totally undiagnosed. Just clinically they could tell... There is a huge TB problem here and we expect we will find a huge number of HIV postiive people among those people in the TB program." Audio RealPlayer link here.

Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world. With 29.8% of adults infected, it comes after only Botswana and Swaziland, and is the poorest of the three. According to the WHO and UNAIDS around 330,000 adults and 27,000 children have HIV/AIDS out of a total population of just over 2 million. Approximately 29,000 people died of AIDS in 2003, representing nearly 1.5% of the entire population.

The MSF team in South Africa has long been concerned about the overwhelming rates of HIV infection in countries bordering South Africa, such as Lesotho and Swaziland. In August 2005 , Rachel Cohen, who would later become the Project Coordinator, and MSF South Africa head of mission Dr. Eric Goemaere went to Lesotho to carry out an 'explo' mission to better understand the overall needs, general context, and local response to HIV/AIDS.

By October 2005, the Lesotho project had been approved by MSF. A small team was sent in November to organise some preliminary training of nurses on the management of HIV-related conditions. The project itself was launched in January, 2006.

Today there is a full team at the project.

Project Coordinator Rachel Cohen, as well as other MSF doctors, nurses, drivers and patients will be providing regular updates from the field to provide updates on the developments, challenges, successes and setbacks the team faces in its first year.