LESOTHO is the only country that has included the key populations to address SRHR/HIV and GBV issues amongst the countries which are implementing the 2gether 4 SRHR programme.
June 27, 2022
2 min read
Lesotho gets accolades in recognition of discriminated groups
Sex workers plying their trade in the streets of Maseru
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Key populations are defined as groups who, due to specific higher risk behaviours, are at risk of HIV, irrespective of the epidemic type or local content.
UNFPA East-Southern Africa’s Richard Delate said this was the same group of people who were abused and discriminated because of who they were and what they did.
“Generally, when one looks at key populations, they think about high levels of HIV, and STIs, forgetting that these are the people who are at risk of violence from the societies, as well as discrimination,” he said.
“Key populations, especially female sex workers, are exposed to high level of unintended teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions. With the programme, they are trying to keep them safe from HIV, and they need to be looked at holistically. Their health needs have to be dealt with holistically, and bearing in mind that they are humans like any other. We also know that for many key populations, access to health services is quite difficult.”
Mr Delate said sometimes stigma by healthcare providers made it difficult to access service but Lesotho had been able to integrate the whole package services around key populations.
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“This is one of the few programmes that have been able to focus on them,” he said. “In order to accommodate this group in everyday life, people need to stop identifying each other in groups. They are Basotho - they need health services as their rights, need jobs and food security like everybody else”.
He said part of what needed to be done was to have open discussions with community leaders, together with key populations on their needs.
“It’s also important for the church to bring greater understanding to people, and make people accept them as part of the society,” he added.