Berea Government Hospital, Teyateyaneng, Lesotho, April 16, 2021:
Please allow me to begin by paying my respect to
His Majesty King Letsie III
The Right Honorable the Prime Minister
Honorable Members of His Majesty’s Cabinet,
Senior Government officials,
Members of the Press, who play such a vital role in informing the public and in protecting our freedoms,
And, especially, the government officials and healthcare workers who have been working so bravely, so tirelessly, throughout this pandemic.
I am honored to be here today at the Berea Government Hospital for the official handover of four (4) oxygen concentrators that have been donated by the American people through the United States Department of Defense (DOD). These five are just part of the larger contribution of thirty-six (36) oxygen concentrators to the Government of Lesotho. This donation was made possible through the generous support of the American people as part of our global response to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s donation is part of the United States government’s broader efforts to support the health and well-being of the Basotho people and specifically to strengthen Lesotho’s ability to fight COVID. It builds on the strong relationship that has spanned for over half a century and has continued to flourish—from Peace Corps to PEPFAR and now through COVID. The American people have been steadfast partners to Lesotho, and we remain committed to our partnership, especially during these very challenging times.
Over the past year, the United States government has provided $5.25 million (approximately 81 million Maloti) to the COVID-19 response in Lesotho, focusing on COVID testing, clinical care, surveillance, and vaccine preparedness. In addition to the oxygen concentrators, the United States Department of Defense has coordinated donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to aid frontline healthcare workers and testing supplies to increase Lesotho’s testing capacity. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the Ministry of Health by training health care workers in COVID-19 critical clinical care; supportive supervision of health facilities; and district-specific planning and rollouts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided critical technical assistance to strengthen infection control, surveillance, and laboratory activities across Lesotho.
This equipment handover also underscores the underlying reality that COVID-19 is still a very serious health challenge. As much as we all wish this pandemic was over, it is not over yet. We all must remain vigilant in our efforts to counter this devastating pandemic. Each of us still has an important role to play – from frontline healthcare workers across facilities like the one we’re at today to ordinary Basotho from Tele to Mechachane.
We cannot afford to be complacent, especially with warnings of a possible third wave by international health experts. Everyone in Lesotho has to contribute to the national efforts. You can do that—we can do that—by wearing our masks when we are in public and especially when we are indoors and avoiding large gatherings.
The effects of the previous wave cannot be overemphasized or underestimated: Many have lost their loved ones, health systems were brought to their knees, massive job losses and the collapse of global economies. As we continue our efforts to recover from the widespread impact of the Coronavirus, we must be sure that we each continue to adhere to safety precautions as guided by the World Health Organization (WHO), and agencies like the CDC and the Ministry of Health here in Lesotho. We must not forget to wear a face mask properly, covering the nose and mouth. We must regularly sanitize and wash your hands with soap and running water. We must maintain social distancing efforts when outside of our homes. These simple steps have already proven to save lives.
Let me conclude by reaffirming that the people of the United States are together with our Basotho friends in the joint effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. United we stand — Lets’oele le beta poho!
Remain vigilant – protect yourself, your families, and your nation. Le lule le falimehile, le it’sireletse, le t’sireletse malapa a lona, le sechaba soohle.
Thank you, Kea Leboha
Khotso, Pula, Nala!