LESOTHO, 8 April 2010 – During a two day trip to Lesotho, UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman met with Government officials, visited health programs and witnessed first-hand the impact of HIV and AIDS on the children of Lesotho, a mountainous country entirely landlocked by South Africa.
“This small nation has been ravaged by the HIV and AIDS pandemic causing a decline in average life expectancy to around 40 years old,” said Veneman. “It has the third highest prevalence in the world.”
In meetings with the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Pakalitha Mosisili, and other senior Government officials, discussions focused on the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“Significant progress has been made in addressing the HIV and AIDS pandemic, especially in preventing mother to child transmission,” said Veneman. “Over 60 per cent of pregnant women in Lesotho are receiving life saving drugs to reduce the likelihood of newborn infections.”
Veneman also praised the government’s focus on prevention.
“Education is key,” said Veneman. “The people of Lesotho, especially the youth, must understand how to prevent the spread of AIDS.”
Veneman met with His Majesty, King Letsie III and discussed a broad range of issues including food insecurity, economic development and the situation of children.
“Lesotho has a high number of orphans and vulnerable children, many of whom have lost one or both parents to AIDS,” said Veneman. “UNICEF and partners are working closely with the Government to ensure social programs are in place to provide basic health services, education and support.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF New York ,
Tel: +1 212 326 7270;
Clelia Barbadoro. UNICEF Lesotho,
Tel: +266 22 315 801;