AIDS kills nearly 70 people each day in the landlocked
mountainous state, but only 6 200 HIV-infected people receive free
anti-retroviral drugs of the 56 000 who need them, according to both the
government and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).
The government has over the past two years stepped up efforts and is a partner
in an ambitious UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS programme (UNAids) to put about
three million people around the world on anti-retrovirals by the end of the
year, including 28 000 of Lesotho's 1,8-million people.
"Last year, there were 2 000 and all of them adults
and today it is 6 200, of whom 200 are children," said Bertrand Desmoulins,
Unicef's regional representative in
"This is not enough but it is a positive development,
better than before and better than nothing at all," he said.
Unicef last month launched a worldwide programme to
convince the governments in the worst HIV-affected countries to put children at
the centre of their efforts to fight the disease.
has the world's third-highest HIV/AIDS rate at 27%, according to the latest
figures released by UNAids.
There are already about 100 000 AIDS orphans, 22 000
children have HIV and about 7 000 babies are born HIV-positive every year.
In this situation, it is not surprising that
has become one of the first countries in the world to provide special
anti-retroviral drugs prepared specially for children and put in syrups instead
president Bill Clinton in July inaugurated a specialised clinic in the
. His Clinton Foundation hopes to distribute free anti-retrovirals to about 750
children by the end of the year.
During that visit,
is helping to prove that paediatric HIV/AIDS treatment is indeed possible in
the developing world."
However, efforts to stem the pandemic have been handicapped
by the fact that vast swathes of the essentially rural country lack proper roads
and the medical infrastructure is skeletal.
A major impediment is the high cost of treatment -- until
recently, each adult treatment cost 200 a year while for each child it was an
astounding 1 200 a year.
is among the world's poorest countries, with a per capita income of 590 a
year, and two-thirds of the population earn less than 1 a day.
However, a partnership between the government, Unicef and
the Clinton Foundation has led to lower costs: 140 per adult and 220 for every
But other problems remain. The anti-retrovirals
need to be stocked in refrigerators -- a luxury in this penury-stricken country
where most people do not have access to electricity. -- Sapa-AFP