We want all children in Lesotho to enjoy good health. We working towards this by:
- Increasing the number of children who are protected from disease
- Increasing the number of children who are well nourished
- Ensuring children and their caregivers have access to essential health services
- Reducing the prevalence and impact of HIV and AIDS on boys and girls
Although the under 5 mortality rate has dropped significantly in recent years, it is still higher than the globally acceptable level. There are a number of factors working against young children in Lesotho including malnutrition (often caused by poor feeding practices), unsafe water, inadequate sanitation facilities or insufficient hygiene practices. These underlying challenges are often exasperated by environmental conditions, such as drought.
Secondly, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS increased slightly from 23% 2009 to 25% 2014.
We are monitoring the growth of children so that signs of malnutrition can be addressed early. We are training mothers and communities about the proper care and nutrition of newborn and young children and we are empowering communities to identify and care for children in need.
To address negative health effects as a result of poor water, insufficient access to sanitation and inappropriate hygiene practices, we are both working to provide access to improved water sources as well as train communities on the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
To address the spread of HIV and AIDS, we are working with faith and community leaders to address the underlying causes of HIV and AIDS (including vulnerability, orphaned children and child marriage) as well as encourage communities and youth to employ proven prevention techniques.
Yes! Although there is still work to be done, we have seen a 6% reduction in the number of children who are stunted (from 39% in 2014 to 33%). We have also seen a dramatic increase in the number of children who are exclusively breastfed for their first 6 months of life. We celebrate that as of 2017 89.6% of babies in the areas where we work are now exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life, up from below 70% in 2014. Finally, we have seen an increase in the percentage of children who are receiving their essential vaccines, now 79.2% in 2017, and an increase in the number of births attended by a skilled birth attendant, now 92.4% in 2017.
We are continuing to make progress towards our goal of ensuring all families in the communities where we serve have safe and reliable access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities and appropriate hygiene practices.
We are also seeing encouraging results in the prevention of HIV and AIDS among youth in Lesotho. In areas where we are working and where we have trained church leaders, we see a higher percentage (44%) of young men being medically circumcised (a method approved by the World Health Organization in 2007 to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS from infected female partners) than the national average of 36%.
- 1,121 pregnant women and caregivers of children under 2 received counseling and training on proper nutrition and necessary vaccines.
- 1,161 community-based organizations and/or members were empowered and equipped to care for chronically ill children.
- 6,769 pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of 5 received supplementary feeding support.
- 1,200 church leaders were trained to help their congregations prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS
*Numbers from 2016 and 2017