By Fiona Ip (Courtesy of AHF)
For vulnerable populations, food insecurity and COVID-19 often go hand-in-hand, but it is even more dangerous for people living with HIV, since their adherence to lifesaving medicine often relies on clients’ ability to eat prior to taking their medications.
To help bridge the gap and keep clients current on their antiretrovirals, AHF Lesotho and Premier Foods have teamed up for those most in need with two separate but related initiatives: weekly bread donations to five AHF clinics by the food company and an emergency food distribution event set up by AHF Lesotho that delivered food parcels to 630 clients.
“We are grateful for the Lesotho bakery [Premier Foods] which filled a critical need for our clients, with many facing challenges that increase their vulnerabilities,” said Mapaballo Mile, AHF Lesotho Country Program Manager. “Premier Foods nominated AHF to receive and distribute the bread – over 1,200 loafs – which were delivered to our clinics once a week until the lockdown restrictions were lifted.”
In addition to the bread donations, AHF Lesotho organized a food distribution event where clients determined to be most in need were able to safely pick up food parcels. Clients included nursing mothers, adolescent youth, elderly without support, orphans, and female heads of households.
“Food is the first ‘medication’ that clients need before taking their treatment, so we were glad to be able to provide that level of support to clients who had difficulty accessing food during lockdowns,” added AHF Lesotho Medical Director Dr. Patrick Kanyema. “COVID-19 has put a strain on us all, but it is critical that we keep the progress we’ve made in fighting HIV/AIDS. Getting food to our clients during a crisis is just one way to continue that fight.”
AHF has been working in Lesotho since 2013 and currently provides HIV care and treatment to 33,110 registered clients.