Collaborative Strategies for Better Healthcare in Lesotho

By:Thandiwe Kubere

Maseru – The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has recently conducted an in-country assessment of Lesotho’s health system. The evaluation aimed to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), injuries, and mental health prevention and control.

Africa CDC commends Lesotho for its integrated health services and well-functioning referral systems. These systems effectively connect district hospitals and even remote areas, ensuring a seamless flow of patients and information.

While the country has made significant strides in treating HIV and AIDS, the assessment highlighted the need for further improvement in responding to NCDs. Africa CDC also encourages Lesotho to extend its success in HIV treatment to chronic diseases. Strengthening the country’s response to NCDs is crucial for overall health outcomes.

NCDs and Mental Health Lead at Africa CDC, Dr. Adelard Kakunze emphasized the importance of accountability among health stakeholders. He called for a comprehensive strategy with a clear implementation plan. He says, “There is a set of things we want to do, but are we going to be able to do them all or at the same time? I think this is where it is important to go a step further. There is a timeline and responsible parties. Now we need to come up with a comprehensive strategy with a constant implementation plan.” He further assures that the Africa CDC will continue to support the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Kakunze advises higher learning institutions to collaborate with the Ministry of Health to assist in building strategies to help treat diseases. He says, “We are here to promote multi-sectoral coordination and action.”

The assessment also recognized Lesotho’s cooperative and well-functioning community health workers. Additionally, Robert Maumakwa, representing the Ministry of Health-Botswana, praised Lesotho’s efforts in strengthening primary health care.

“I mean you have about 8000 village health care workers who come from communities they serve. And there is so much ownership from that level”. Maumakwa further applauds that there are very good working relations between the village health workers and the local facilities, as well as a very good coordination structure that is visible. “We even talked about the need to empower and integrate NCDs into what is already existing. There is no need to re-create anything, we just need to integrate NDC screenings, education, and referral to treatment.

The Special Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Rosette Nyirikindi further urges the government of Lesotho to utilize the Africa CDC’s report. She emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts to build upon the work done during the assessment. Nyirikindi states, “We hope to leverage all the insights gained here in a collaborative manner, not only benefiting the Kingdom of Lesotho but also other African member states.”

The Ministry of Health expressed gratitude to Africa CDC for selecting Lesotho as the first member state of the African Union Commission to undergo the assessment. Representing the Ministry of Health, ‘Mats’oanelo Monyobi highlighted the significance of this opportunity. She says, “Lesotho will benefit greatly from this assessment. By learning from your experiences and best practices, we aim to enhance our healthcare system and provide exemplary care for our citizens, and perhaps even serve as an example for other nations.” Monyobi also mentioned that the Ministry is currently restructuring the entire health sector, with one of the recommendations being the establishment of multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms for addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Lessons Learned: Streamlining Health Facilities The assessment revealed an interesting contrast between Lesotho and some other countries. While Lesotho follows a system where patients visit the same health facility and are directed to different departments based on their specific needs, other countries (such as Eswatini) use a parallel system where people go to different facilities based on their illnesses.

The Africa CDC’s rigorous assessments provide valuable insights, helping countries identify strengths, address gaps, and enhance their health systems. Lesotho’s experience serves as a blueprint for others, showcasing the power of collaboration and data-driven decision-making.