LONDON, United Kingdom, April 8, 2016/ — ViiV Healthcare (www.ViiVHealthcare.com), a global specialist HIV company, announced today jointly with its global partners, Vodafone Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies and the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the launch of the Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment (MHIT) programme in Lesotho.
The MHIT programme is a multi-million dollar three-year commitment led by the Vodafone Foundation through the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, with financial contributions from the private and public sectors, including funding and community mobilisation expertise from ViiV Healthcare, as well as support from Elton John AIDS Foundation to Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation—Lesotho, ELMA Philanthropies and USAID.
The goal of the MHIT programme is to double the number of children in Lesotho in care and on treatment within three years, thereby ensuring that their health and futures are not compromised or cut short through lack of access to HIV services. It also aims to improve uptake of services that address mother-to-child transmission of HIV to prevent more children from being born with the virus.
The use of mobile technology has proven a successful tool to address some of the challenges around access to healthcare services, such as access to transport, in rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa.(1) In Lesotho, the Vodafone Foundation is building on this success by deploying mobile clinics to rural areas to reach children – including adolescents – and mothers in hard to reach communities, providing primary care services (including antenatal checks and immunisation) and searching for individuals living with HIV to provide them with better access to treatment, using mobile money-based transport vouchers so they can reach clinics or hospitals. For many children and mothers, this could be the first time that primary healthcare services have been accessible to them. In addition, the use of mobile technology enables the management, coordination of services and communications to support the implementation of the programme.
Dr Dominique Limet, CEO ViiV Healthcare, commented: “Through our Positive Action programmes, we have a successful track record in mobilising communities and supporting capacity building at grassroots level to address the challenges of the HIV epidemic. By working with the right partners, we can deliver practical solutions to make a true difference to the lives of children in Lesotho and help future generations live longer and more fulfilling lives.”
Rishaad Tayob, Managing Director, Vodacom Lesotho said: “Vodacom Lesotho Foundation and Vodafone Foundation are bringing money, marketing, management and mobile technology to challenge paediatric HIV. Partnership is critical and by working with private funders and the Government of Lesotho and USAID, we aim to double the number of children on treatment and in care. We are already saving lives. We are privileged to also have the full support of His Majesty the King.”
Lesotho has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS with 23% of the two million population living with HIV.(2, 3) Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs), which suppress the HIV virus and stop its progression, are available, however, only a third of the estimated 19,000 children in Lesotho living with the virus are receiving ARTs.(3, 4, 5) Lesotho is made up mostly of highlands where many of the villages can be reached only on horseback, by foot or light aircraft. This means that resources are scarce and difficult to access by mothers and their children.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ViiV Healthcare.
ViiV Healthcare Media Inquiries:
Isabelle Scali (UK) +44 7557 290420
Sébastien Desprez (UK) +44 7920 567707
Marc Meachem (US) +1 919 483 8756
(1) Vodafone. Mobilising Maternal Health. http://www.vodafone.com/content/index/about/foundation/mobilising-maternal-health.html Last accessed: April 2016
(2) HIV and AIDS in Lesotho. http://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/lesotho Last accessed: April 2016.
(3) UNAIDS. Lesotho. http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/lesotho Last accessed: April 2016
(4) World Health Organization, ‘Guideline on when to start antiretroviral therapy and on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV’, 2015. http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/guidelines/earlyrelease-arv/en/ Last accessed: April 2016
(5) UNAIDS. Country Progress Report, Lesotho. http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/country/documents/LSO_narrative_report_2015.pdf Last accessed: April 2016.
Notes to editors:
About ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action
Positive Action was created in 1992 as the first pharmaceutical company programme to support communities affected by HIV and AIDS. ViiV Healthcare is proud to continue the Positive Action programme and its valuable work with these communities. Positive Action works with those communities most vulnerable to HIV disease, including youth, girls and women, sex workers, gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, injecting drug users (IDU), the homeless and the incarcerated. Our projects range across education, prevention, care and treatment-related activity such as treatment literacy and community/clinical engagement. We also fund action research into how these areas can be improved. For more information about our Positive Action programmes, please visit: www.ViiVHealthcare.com
About ViiV Healthcare:
ViiV Healthcare (www.ViiVHealthcare.com) is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.
About Vodafone Foundation
The Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines Vodafone’s charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Globally, the Vodafone Foundation supports projects that are focused on delivering public benefit through the use of mobile technology across the areas of health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity, registered charity number 1089625. For more information, please visit: http://www.vodafone.com/content/index/about/foundation.html
About Vodacom Lesotho Foundation
The Vodacom Lesotho Foundation is part of Vodafone’s global network of 27 foundations. It is affiliated with Vodacom Group. In addition to the Moyo Lesotho project, the Vodacom Foundation also supports initiatives in education and entrepreneurship development in Lesotho through its other key initiatives, iSchool Lesotho, as well as the Vodacom Innovation Park. These are just two of the many initiatives supported by the Vodacom Foundation. For more information, please visit: http://www.vodacom.com/about-us/foundation/foundation-home
About United States Government support through USAID
The United States government, with the generous support of the American people, has been a major contributor to the HIV/AIDS response in Lesotho, through both multilateral and bilateral channels. Multilaterally, the U.S. government has committed more than $11 billion to the Global Fund, including $1.35 billion this year alone. Bilaterally, U.S. support comes through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Since the outbreak of the epidemic, through PEPFAR, the United States has committed $65 billion globally, including $250 million in Lesotho. The United States, through USAID, is proud to contribute $3 million to support this exciting public-private partnership.
About Elton John AIDS Foundation
The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) is one of the largest private funding institutions for AIDS in the world. In the last 23 years, it has raised over £221m ($350m) to support more than 1,500 projects across four continents. EJAF is dedicated to reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS through innovative HIV prevention programmes, eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and supporting direct care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Funding has helped leverage a further £228m ($355m) for programme partners, enabling them to reach millions of people infected, affected or at risk of HIV. To find out more please go to www.ejaf.org/london