Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 13:44:01 +0100 (MET)

ROME, Feb 7, 2011 (AFP) - Floods and heavy rain across southern Africa have damaged thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland and more may be hit in coming weeks, raising fears for food supplies, the UN food agency said Monday.   With the rainy season still only half way through, and with the cyclone season due to peak in February, agricultural areas along the region's rivers in remain at high risk of flooding, the Food and Africulture Organisation warned.

Most countries in the region, including Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are affected, it said, quoting quoted Cindy Holleman, FAO regional emergency coordinator.   "Food insecurity levels are already critical in the affected areas of some of these countries and floods will only further worsen the ability of poor farmers to cope and feed their families in the coming months," Holleman added.   The FAO is working with regional and national early warning systems to monitor the evolution in major river basins and to assess the impact on food crops, the statement added.    The agency is also providing governments with technical advice on flood monitoring systems, preparedness, and measures to prevent the outbreak or spread of animal disease, while preparing to provide aid such as seeds, and restoring agricultural activities after flood waters recede.

In Lesotho, one of the poorest countries in the sub-region, up to 60 percent of harvests have been lost in some areas and more than 4,700 head of livestock, mainly sheep and goats, are dead, the FAO reported.    Localized crop losses are also reported along river banks in southern and central Mozambique. The government has declared a red alert for central and southern Mozambique as water flows in the major rivers are above alert levels.    South Africa has already declared a national state of disaster in many districts of the country due to the floods that have destroyed thousands of hectares of crop land, and caused damages estimated in millions of dollars.
Date: January - May 2008
Source: Annual Report of the Humanitarian Resident Coordinator on the use of CERF Grants [summ., & edited]
<http://www.afro.who.int/en/lesotho/lesotho-publications/doc_download/1226-annual-report-of-the-humanitarianresident-coordinator-on-the-use-of-cerf-grants.html>

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Cases of anthrax reported by age at Mofoka H.C. from 30 Jan to 18 Mar 2008
0-9 yrs: 128 cases
10-19 yrs: 91
20-29 yrs: 95
30-39 yrs: 79
40-49 yrs: 57
50-59 yrs: 73
60-69 yrs: 59
70-79 yrs: 49
Unknown: 16

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Response to an outbreak of anthrax:
The WHO supported the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in responding to a major outbreak of anthrax, which affected 2 districts (Maseru and Mafeteng). A total of 650 human cases were seen in the 2 districts and 6 lost their lives. The case fatality rate in this outbreak was 0.92 percent. All the deaths occurred prior to the response operation. This support has had a positive impact on the lives of the affected population. The summary of cases seen is provided in table 1 (below) while figure 1 [see at source URL] shows some of the cases that were seen and successfully managed during the outbreak.

Table 1: Statistics on the anthrax outbreak in Lesotho:
District / no. of villages affected / no. of animals affected
(meat:non-meat) / human cases (cases:deaths:CFT percent)
Maseru / 17 / 528:11 / 647:6:0.93
Mafeteng / 15 / 260:0 / 3:0:0
Mohale's Hoek* / 2 / 20:0 / 0:0:0
Total / 24 / 808:11 / 650:6:0.92
  *Outbreak confirmed as blackquarter
CFT = Case Fatality Rate

The health education intervention of the outbreak response focussed on visiting villages and educating the public on the disease (what is anthrax and its forms, signs and symptoms -- human and animal, prevention, what to do after exposure or on suspecting infection, and disposal of dead animals). 47 villages were reached where more 2335 people were given education (see details in the table below [Table 2; see at source URL]). The positive change brought by the intervention is captured in figure 2 [see at source URL] where dead animals were being buried as opposed to been eaten (practise followed prior to the intervention). This change of behaviour and the decontamination of sites where animals had died and where they were buried reduced the risk of exposure and saved public lives.

Decontamination of sites where the affected animals died or were buried was conducted. A total of 376 out of the 383 contaminated sites were decontaminated. In Maseru only 2 sites were not decontaminated while in Mafeteng 5 were not.

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Case detection, management, and reporting of communicable diseases:The disease surveillance system was revitalised with the refresher training of health centre nurses from 6 districts. This translates into 100 percent achievement of the refresher trainings that were to be conducted to revive the disease surveillance system. A total of 207 health centre nurses were trained. The table below [Table 3; see at source URL] shows the distribution of integrated disease surveillance and response trainings conducted.

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Management of severe malnutrition:
Although the training of hospital and health centre nurses on the management of severe malnutrition was successfully conducted in Mafeteng and Mokhotlong districts, the comparison of the case fatality rate before and after the training was given does not show an improvement. The objective of a severe malnutrition ward should be to achieve a case fatality rate of less than 5 percent. The overall case fatality rate in the facilities monitored is more than 17.7 percent, which is poor according to the Lesotho Protocols for the Management of Severe Malnutrition. This area needs to be followed up to establish the possible cause of the high case fatality rates.
========================
[Members are encouraged to read this document in full. A major reason why such anthrax outbreaks occur is because of rural malnutrition and the utilization of sick and dying animals to provide much needed food, in this case biltong. As a rule of thumb one can assume that 10 people in rural Africa will be affected for every sick animal. It says something positive for Lesotho that it is near unity there.

For maps of Lesotho, see <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/africa/lesotho.gif> and <http://healthmap.org/r/01bh>. - ProMed Mod.MHJ]
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2009 18:13:21 +0200 (METDST)

MASERU, Sept 9, 2009 (AFP) - Lesotho has reported its first cases of swine flu with 13 people testing positive for the A(H1N1) virus in the tiny southern African kingdom, the health ministry said on Wednesday.   "However we urge the public not to panic as the country has taken necessary precautionary measures to prevent and control the disease," health ministry spokesman Tumisang Mokoai told AFP.   The government has set up mobile clinics in all the ports of entry into Lesotho, a mountainous nation entirely surrounded by South Africa, in a bid to screen people showing flu-like symptoms.
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 12:13:37 +0100 (MET)
 
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18, 2008 (AFP) - Lesotho's effort to give HIV tests to everyone in the country over 12 years old has failed due to lack of funding and poor training for health workers, rights groups said Tuesday.   The campaign began in 2005 with the goal of testing 1.3 million people, but by August 2007 had tested only 25,000 people for HIV, Human Rights Watch and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa said in a report.
 
Thousands of counselors were supposed to receive training under the scheme, while support services for people with HIV were meant to be expanded, but those efforts were largely sidelined due to poor funding and administrative failures, the report said.   The scheme also failed to ensure that people gave informed consent to the testing or to guarantee confidentiality for those tested, it added.   "Lesotho's program was noble in ambition but weak in action," the two groups said in a statement.
 
The report said testing programmes should ensure that people receive enough information about the disease to make an informed decision about whether to undergo testing.   If they receive testing, the results should be confidential and people should have access to follow-up counselling and care, the groups added.   Lesotho, a tiny and impoverished kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa, is one of the countries hardest-hit by the disease, with 23.2 percent of people aged 15-49 carrying the virus.   The country has 180,000 orphans, and more than 55 percent of them lost their parents to AIDS.
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 04:48:14 +0200 (METDST) by Fran Blandy MAFETENG, Lesotho, June 26, 2007 (AFP) - For Lesotho farmer Setsabo Mothibeli it has been too long since the rain came, as he stands desolately among dried maize stalks in the barren field he should have been harvesting. Like many subsistence farms in the small southern African mountain kingdom, his fields would have fed about 15 people -- but another year of drought, another failed harvest and the news could not be worse for the small country. "The stalks are so dry that they are useless even for the animals," says a frustrated Mothibeli, tossing aside the dried remains of maize that never grew to maturity. "We didn't harvest anything this year. We are stranded because even animals we were hoping to sell have been affected by the drought. There was no fodder for the animals so they are very thin and can't be sold at the market." Driving out of the capital Maseru, field after field of knee-high withered maize bears testimony to the devastation wrought by the country's worst drought in 30 years. Each desiccated field would have supported scores of people and livestock who now pick desperately among the parched remains of the crops. Even though it would have been harvesting season, some farmers can be seen trying to replough their fields in the vain hope that something will grow and feed their families. The brown and dusty landscape stretches endlessly, mercilessly, with the only hope for the Basotho that international donors will heed the call for more food aid as government declares a state of emergency. In the village near Mafeteng, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the capital Maseru where Mothibeli lives, the situation is especially dire and the World Food Programme is bringing pulses, maize and vegetable oil which will see 29 households (158 people) through the next month. "This is one of the most hit villages from the drought. We expected to only be helping them for six months but then again we had this drought crisis," WFP field monitor assistant Nthoneng Mahao tells AFP. The women of the village rush eagerly to help offload the bags and tins of food, rationing it before men and children bring their donkeys and a wheelbarrow or two to cart it off back home. Malipuo Moleko has to feed seven people with the food aid, and says that while it often is not enough, the community tries to share vegetables and food so everyone had at least one meal a day. "We always have something to eat, although we sometimes have to reduce portions so it stretches longer," she says. According to the WFP country director Bhim Udas some 400,000 people across the country -- a fifth of the population -- will need food assistance as only 72,000 tonnes of cereal was produced for a population needing 328,000 tonnes. The true depth of the crisis would only be felt towards the end of the year and early 2008 when current stocks run out and locals feel the effect of rising food prices. "About 80 percent of Basothos depend on agriculture and there is only 10 percent of arable land," said Udas. Udas notes the irony in that the dehydrated country is considered water rich, and its main source of income is from the water it sells to South Africa through the controversial Lesotho Highlands Water Development Project. "Water is one of the main incomes for government but the income is not shared with the people," he says. Lesotho, entirely surrounded by South Africa, makes some 25 million rand (3.4 million dollars, 2.5 million euros) a month from supplying water to its giant neigbhour. According to Mahao: "The government making water available for people, it's a matter of accessibility. We don't have taps, there are no water pipes. We seem to be the main exporter of water, yet we don't have it for ourselves." The mostly rural country is massively food insecure and hard hit by HIV/AIDS, and nowhere are the effects more poignant than in the malnourishment section of the children's ward at Maseru's Queen Elizabeth II hospital. In one corner four-month-old baby Poello's head lolls weakly to the side as he is fed through a tube in his nose. He is desperately awaiting antiretroviral treatment, but is still too undernourished to receive the strong medication. Opposite him nine-month-old Matselitso, who came to the hospital four months previously, her belly distended from malnourishment, has started smiling and playing for the first time. "In January, February and March two thirds of the childrens ward is filled with those who are malnourished and many arrive too late," head of the paediatric ward Grace Phiri tells AFP.
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