The Minister of Health Mr. Nyapane Kaya said Lesotho has experienced a rise in routine viral load testing – from 6,232 tests in June 2017 to 14,800 in June 2017.
This he said during the launch of a M2.3 million refurbished Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at Motebang Hospital in Leribe.
The Motebang Hospital Laboratory runs 280 specimens in an eight-hour shift, which translates to 70,000 tests per year.
Mr. Kaya said the Leribe laboratory will provide viral load testing promptly to ensure appropriate management of Antiretroviral therapy.
Viral load monitoring is critical for viral suppression and improving the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS as well as preventing new infections. This will go a long way in ensuring that Lesotho reaches the 2020 target of 90% viral suppression.
Mr. Kaya acknowledged the Motebang Laboratory and University Research Company (URC)-Lesotho for supporting the refurbishment work.
He also acknowledged the US government for their continued financial and technical support as well as improving the quality of healthcare for Basotho.
He said the Ministry of Health is committed to providing best quality service for patients.
The US Ambassador to Lesotho Mr. Matthew Harrington said treatment is essential for controlling the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, he said treatment requires timely diagnosis and monitoring, adding that a “quality-assured laboratory” such as the one at Motebang Hospital can make a big difference in reducing “the burden of HIV” on patients as well as enabling health personnel to provide better management of HIV/AIDS.
The diagnostic laboratory helps stem the spread of the HIV virus by monitoring the viral load of people living with HIV/AIDS who are on Antiretroviral treatment (ART).
Mr. Harrington applauded Lesotho for being the first African country to implement the Test and Treat Campaign for HIV/AIDS.
He said since the launch of the campaign in April 2016, the number of HIV positive people receiving treatment for the first time has increased substantially.
He added that Basotho came forward for HIV testing knowing that if they were positive they would be enrolled for treatment right way instead of having to wait until they were sick.
The collaboration between Lesotho and the US is making progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since 2007, more than 140,000 people living with HIV are currently on ART and 90% of 175,497 viral load tests conducted were virally suppressed.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Mr. Monaphathi Maraka said the US had contributed immensely towards the improvement of the livelihood of Basotho with various programmes implemented across the country.
He also urged the Motebang Hospital staff to adopt new and effective methods for improving health services.
Speaking on behalf of the District Health Manager, Mrs ‘Mathaabe Ranthimo said specimens will no longer be taken to the national laboratory and thus reducing the time taken to obtain results – from four months to a week.
She said the establishment of the laboratory came at an opportune time when the Hospital is striving for quality service and excellence.