Botšabelo Hospital Leading Lesotho’s Care and Support for TB and COVID-19

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Fighting two of the world’s deadliest diseases, PIH Lesotho’s Maseru facility is boosting vital infrastructure and conducting outreach across the country

Posted April 3, 2021

PIH registered nurse Tlotlisang Thai, right, and MDR-TB patient Thoriso Daniel Limo, a 35-year-old bricklayer, stroll along a covered walkway in October 2019 at Botsabelo Hospital, where Limo said treatment “had done wonders” for him since his arrival about two weeks earlier. (Photo by: Karin Schermbrucker / for PIH).

Partners In Health and Lesotho’s Ministry of Health marked World TB Day with two distinct actions: conducting community tuberculosis screenings in rugged Buta-Buthe District, one of the most mountainous regions of the world’s only country entirely above 1,000 meters; and launching intensive TB screening programs in factories and prisons in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital.   

Factories, prisons, and other crowded, unsanitary areas with poor ventilation can be hotspots for TB, one of the deadliest infectious diseases on the planet. PIH, known locally as Bo-mphato Litsebeletsong Tsa Bophelo, has supported the Lesotho government’s fight against TB since 2006.

PIH’s work is strengthening public health systems and improving outcomes for patients in the rural, southern Africa nation with one of the highest TB burdens in the world. PIH collaborates with Lesotho’s Ministry of Health to run the national program for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a severe form of the airborne, respiratory disease.  

The center of that program is PIH’s Botšabelo Hospital. The growing campus in Maseru is the nation’s only hospital for people with MDR-TB, and reaches patients nationwide. PIH’s TB outreach programs offer resources, screening, and health services to families and communities in hard-to-reach districts of Lesotho, connecting people to lifesaving treatment and care, conducting contact tracing, and providing preventative TB therapy to people who have been in contact with TB patients.

Meanwhile, clinicians and staff on the hospital campus provide lifesaving care and support for patients, who very often are battling severe TB along with HIV, hypertension or other diseases.

Such as COVID-19.  

Botšabelo Hospital has expanded over the past year to support care for COVID-19 patients across Lesotho, while also improving care for TB patients. A new oxygen plant installed at the hospital in December is the first such facility in Lesotho and will save lives during the respiratory COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Dr. Melino Ndayizigiye (right), executive director of PIH in Lesotho, enters the new oxygen plant at PIH-supported Botsabelo Hospital in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, earlier this month. Behind him is Lesotho Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo and, at left, Advocate Lesimole Moletsane, deputy principal secretary for Lesotho’s Ministry of Health. (Mpho Marole / PIH)
Tanks ready for use outside the new oxygen plant at PIH’s Botsabelo Hospital. The plant will support TB and COVID-19 care nationwide. (Mpho Marole / PIH)

PIH also has laid the foundation for an expansion of Botšabelo’s lab, and is building an isolation and treatment center for MDR-TB patients who are co-infected with COVID. PIH teams have added an on-campus wellness center for staff, and renovated outdoor space where patients can spend time safely with visiting family and friends.

And, as Lesotho starts receiving COVID-19 vaccines—the first batch arrived earlier this month—PIH supported the vaccine rollout and provided transportation for vaccines and health care providers in five districts. PIH’s frontline staff also have received the first dose. PIH also is helping the Ministry of Health oversee the national vaccine rollout.

Dr. Melino Ndayizigiye, executive director of PIH in Lesotho, said ensuring that vaccines reach all corners of the country is vital for the eradication of COVID-19. Botšabelo Hospital’s warehouse and supply chain teams are ready to support that work, and help Lesotho spread COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

All of that work, at Botsabelo and beyond, will boost PIH’s TB care and health services for years to come, so Lesotho can continue fighting TB while preparing for the next pandemic, and ensure all Basotho people have access to health care and a stronger future.  

Article originally published on pih.org.

See how the new oxygen plant at Botšabelo Hospital is filling a void in the country’s health care system and will help to save lives during the pandemic and beyond.

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