The 6th of May 2015 marked the official launch of the Jhpiego/TSEPO Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) project. Held in Morija at Scott Hospital, an institution of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA), the ceremony took place on the grounds of the VMMC clinic and was coordinated by the Scott Hospital Administrator Mr. Matela Maxwell Thamae. TSEPO stands for the Technical Support to Enhance HIV/AIDS Prevention and Opportunities in Nursing Education Program and is funded by the American government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development.
Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University in the United States, has been working in Lesotho since 2008 by assisting the Ministry of Health of the Lesotho government to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Lesotho. Since 2012 Jhpiego has been supporting the VMMC effort of the Ministry of Health and is now partnering with PEPFAR on the TSEPO program which not only includes VMMC, but also early infant male circumcision services and strengthening the nursing pre-service education.
Speeches to help launch the project were given by a number of dignitaries including the United States Ambassador to Lesotho Mr. Matthew T. Harrington and the Lesotho Minister of Health Dr. Molotsi Monyamane. Ambassador Harrington noted in his remarks that the American government has contributed $225 million towards fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. Speaking on behalf of Jhpiego was Dr. Virgile Kikaya, the lead physician at the VMMC clinic at Scott Hospital. Lesotho has the 2nd highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world at 23% of the age 15-49 population. It was noted during the launch that VMMC reduces the risk of contracting the disease by 60% and that since 2012 Jhpiego’s work in Lesotho has resulted in over 80,000 VMMCs.
Representing the LECSA at the occasion were the LECSA Executive Secretary Rev. Nelson Khethang Posholi and Rev. Teboho Motumi, the LECSA HIV/AIDS Coordinator.