PIH-Lesotho Receives UN Award for Community-Based COVID-19 Program

Posted on Sep 7, 2020

PIH-supported Lebakeng Health Center in Lesotho
A UNDP award Thursday recognized PIH's community-based COVID-19 response program in Lesotho, particularly through remote facilities including Lebakeng Health Center, shown here. Cecille Joan Avila / PIH

Partners In Health in Lesotho received a United Nations award Thursday for its community-based COVID-19 program, with special recognition of PIH’s work to reach people and families in remote, mountainous regions of the country in southern Africa.

The recognition came from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which collaborates with about 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities through sustainable development.

In May, the UNDP requested competitive proposals for its Innovation Challenge Grants, which would support community-based solutions against COVID-19.

PIH-Lesotho, known locally as Bo-mphato Litsebeletsong Tsa Bophelo, developed a proposal that focused on community awareness and infection prevention and control measures, through the involvement of local health centers and village health workers, who connect their neighbors to health care and resources. PIH’s proposal also focused on mobilizing health center committees in the Lebakeng and Thlanyaku areas, and utilizing treatment supporters who already were working with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis patients across the country.

Lesotho is entirely surrounded by South Africa, an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent. Lebakeng and Thlanyaku are particularly vulnerable border areas. 

Out of 80 applications from community health and nonprofit organizations throughout Lesotho, PIH was commended by the UNDP on Thursday for “best program design for a community intervention for COVID-19.”

The UNDP’s Lesotho representative presented the award to Dr. Melino Ndayizigiye, executive and clinical director for PIH in Lesotho. Leadership with Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Development Planning were on hand, along with Lesotho’s National COVID-19 Secretariat and representatives of the six other award winners.

PIH has worked in Lesotho since 2006, when the government invited us to support its response to the HIV epidemic. PIH’s work and programs in Lesotho have grown to include maternal health, child health, drug-resistant TB, mental health, non-communicable diseases and more, transforming care and health systems across the country.