Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Rebecca E. Gonzales at the LePHIA 2020 Summary Sheet Release

U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, Maseru, Lesotho, August 18, 2021:

   

Lumelang bo-‘M’e le Bo-Ntate! 

Please allow me to start off by paying my respects to

His Majesty King Letsie III,

Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, who is also the LePHIA survey Patron,

The Right Honorable the Prime Minister,

Honorable members of His Majesty’s cabinet, especially the Minister of Health, Honorable Semano Sekatle,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is once again my great pleasure to be here alongside Honorable Minister Sekatle and my ICAP colleagues to present the final data findings of the 2020 Lesotho Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment, commonly referred to as LePHIA 2020.  I want to first recognize the incredible role played by Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate in championing this very important survey for the Mountain Kingdom.  As the Patron of this survey, Her Majesty has been instrumental in supporting this important effort to measure the status of the national HIV response in the Kingdom of Lesotho.  Your Majesty, thank you for your unwavering support of this survey and the enduring partnership between our two nations.  Allow me to also offer my sincere gratitude to the Minister of Health, Honorable Sekatle, because the government’s tremendous work, through the Ministry of Health and HIV/AIDS care and treatment partners, have been the driving force in controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho.  Dear Minister, thank you for your partnership in this incredibly important endeavor. 

I am filled with great excitement as we celebrate the success of the LePHIA 2020 survey.  In the face of a global pandemic and a period of incredible strain on the country’s health systems, we successfully conducted a second-round HIV impact assessment and are here today to evaluate our great work.  Despite the significant challenges over the last year, we forged ahead, together.  Together, health teams and technical experts completed the data collection, delivered the preliminary findings, and completed additional months of data analysis.  Today, we are here to review the final results.  I am most proud of the fact that LePHIA 2020 continues to demonstrate the incredible power of what can be accomplished through strong collaboration between our two nations.  Thank you to the Ministry of Health and Bureau of Statistics for your efforts.  With support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR Lesotho, ICAP at Columbia University, and the National Reference Laboratory, as well as district government authorities and local health facilities, your leadership has gotten us here today.  

Finally, I want to offer my heartfelt appreciation of every Mosotho citizen who participated in the survey.  Today, each one of you should be extremely proud of what the Mountain Kingdom has achieved.  Your participation in the survey makes it possible for the country to continue to make tremendous strides in taking control and reversing the impact of the HIV epidemic in Lesotho.  At the preliminary data release, we were encouraged by learning that Lesotho had exceeded the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets set for last year, achieving 90-97-92.  But I know this is just the beginning.  I look forward to hearing the additional markers of success that Minister Sekatle will announce today as he releases the final LePHIA 2020 survey data.  

As the United States Ambassador, I am so very proud to have witnessed firsthand the achievements of our ongoing work together in the health sector — saving millions of lives, significantly lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, and beginning to reduce the future costs required to sustain the response to this epidemic.  The United States government will continue to work directly with communities and partners across Lesotho to deliver quality care that provides accessible treatment options and improved outcomes.  Today’s summary sheet release illustrates that we’ve made remarkable gains over the country’s two LePHIA surveys.  It is my hope that we remain energized as we work towards the next milestone — maintaining a stable and responsive national HIV/AIDS program in Lesotho and reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets by 2030! 

Your Majesty, allow me to thank you once again for your extraordinary work as Champion of the LePHIA survey.  On behalf of my team at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru, the entire United States government, and all the people in the Mountain Kingdom – Rea Leboha, Your Majesty!

I will conclude by reaffirming that the United States, as the Kingdom of Lesotho’s longest-standing partner, is here, alongside you, to continue to save more lives, and prevent future HIV infections.  The United States government will continue to provide resources and support – the proven activities that will propel this Kingdom towards epidemic control, ultimately ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.  Allow me to close by thanking the people of Lesotho for their tremendous courage and resilience.  I am grateful for the continued partnership between our two great nations.  United We Stand.  Lets’oele le beta poho!

Khotso. Pula. Nala.