National religious leaders’ forum to fight AIDS launched

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By Mamello Mosaefane

Bahai Faith, Christian and Islam leaders in Lesotho launched with the government a national religious leaders forum to collaborate on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The launch was graced by the attendance of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Kemiso Mosenene.

A statement of commitment by these religious groups’ leaders, states: “It is a response to a tragic toll of AIDS epidemic that Lesotho ranks second at”.

The religious leaders said the AIDS scourge in Lesotho has brought an urgency for the religious leaders to work collectively towards the goal of universal access for all to “HIV prevention, treatment, care and support including impact mitigation; emphasizing that all are affected by this epidemic”.

Mosenene said the health sector has long indulged itself in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with church members from 12 churches who in March 2007 held a meeting to initiate their collaborative efforts.

The meeting among others, Mosenene said included the agreement to unite against HIV, address cultural divides as well as eliminating the root causes of AIDS epidemic including gender inequality, systemic injustice, sexual abuse, prejudice and against those whose ways of life are different from the majority of the community.

Until this day of launch, Mosenene said the faith sector has survived challenges such as lack of funding and the loss of momentum due to the dismantling of National AIDS Commission in the past.

A member of Islam Habel Isa Mafana expressed his excitement for the launch as the involvement of religious leaders in the communities plays a huge role.

“I believe this religious unity will broaden and expand to other spheres of community life, and not end only with AIDS as people believe more in religious leaders,” Mafana said.

Mafana also added the collaboration of 3 religions will help in working with one document in HIV/AIDS teachings in churches that will suit in all religious groups without one feeling shamed in it.

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