He was presenting the budget speech to the National Assembly for the 2021-22 fiscal year on Wednesday.
Amongst others, Mr Sophonea said the rollout will include maintaining consistency in monthly payment for Village Health Workers (VHWs) stipends, districts and stakeholders sensitisation on the new village health programme policy, procurement of VHWs kits and protective clothing, six weeks initial trainings for VHWs across the districts and continuation of essential PHC services in the context of COVID-19.
In order to address the social determinants of Tuberculosis (TB) and part of Community TB Care, he said the responsible ministry through its World Bank TB project in collaboration with the Ministry of Small Businesses Development, Cooperatives and Marketing is assisting willing VHWs to establish cooperative - Peoples Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOS).
“Each health facility in Leribe, where the project is being implemented, has to establish one cooperative, thus 28 cooperatives are expected from each of Leribe’s 28 facilities, and to date, 14 have been fully established and contracts signed and are going to receive first payments based on performance,” he said.
There has been a call for establishment of a radio-therapy (cancer) centre in the country. In preparation for this, Mr Sophonea said an Oncology Clinic for cancer treatment has been established at Senkatana Centre and will soon offer chemotherapy services.
The centre he said performs cervical cancer screening and treatment for pre-cancer lesions and refers cancer clients requiring specialised treatment to Bloemfontein in South Africa.
The health system has been strengthened through the installation of teleconferencing infrastructure in 30 health facilities, which include 18 hospitals.
The minister said this infrastructure has enabled continuation of training, mentorship, and supervision of health care workers virtually for HIV/TB and COVID-19 interventions.
In addition, he said this teleconferencing infrastructure supported the largest healthcare worker training on Advanced HIV Disease (AHD) management in which a total of 278 healthcare workers were trained on AHD management virtually over a three-day period.
The country has made enormous progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.