IRIN Examines Decline Of Public Health Services In Lesotho

IRIN reports on a decline in public health services in Lesotho, writing, “In 2007, the government of Lesotho and [the Christian Health Association of Lesotho], which runs 75 health centers and eight hospitals … signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of making health services more accessible to ordinary Basotho who could not afford even the nominal fees that both state and CHAL-run health facilities charged. Patients would now get free medical services and drugs at health centers and subsidized medical care and drugs at hospitals. However, the resulting influx of patients put a huge strain on health centers and their supply of drugs and many over-burdened government and CHAL health centers have taken to referring patients to private clinics and pharmacies.”

“Head of pharmacy in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare ‘Masoko Nt’sekhe described the situation as ‘very unfortunate,’ particularly in the context of a country where about 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, but insisted that she had not received any official reports of drug shortages in hospitals,” IRIN writes. “Nt’sekhe said Lesotho’s current financial crisis — the result of the global economic slowdown combined with a sharp decline in crucial revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) — had not affected public health services in any way,” the news service adds (10/3).