GIVEN the rate at which we continually churn out negative reports about failed policies and programmes, it is only the eternal optimist who could hold fast to the picture of a future in which this beautiful mountain kingdom will one day take its pride of place among the community of nations as a respectable country with decent incomes, social amenities for its citizens and finally free of the afflictions brought on by medical conditions such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Every year we join other nations in policy declarations and even partake in practical programmes aimed at ensuring better socio-economic conditions for our people.
But it would seem the picture is always gloomy whenever the time comes to evaluate the success or lack thereof of such programmes as we have seen with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015 Report.
As we report elsewhere in this edition, the report is full of depressing news about our general failure as a country to stem the tide of maternal or infant mortalities despite our best efforts.
Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing delivered the bad news as he officially launched the report this week which also indicates that overall the country fared badly in the areas of health and poverty-related MDGs.
“Despite an 18 percent increase in skilled personnel attending births since 2001, the maternal mortality situation has worsened in Lesotho with an increase in maternal deaths from 370 per 10 000 births in 1990 to 1 024 in 2014,” Mr Metsing revealed.
“Under five mortality rate and infant mortality rates declined from 113 to 85 per 1000 live births in 2005 to 85 and 59 per 1000 live births, respectively, in 2015, though we failed to achieve the target of 37 deaths per 1000 lives for under five mortality and 27 for infant mortality.”
He said it was unacceptable that more women continued to lose their lives during childbirth despite government’s M37 million investment in the health sector for the recruitment of health professionals.
Having noted all this he was quick to assure development partners and the nation that government was not taking this lightly and they were going to work hard to ensure that there were road facilities leading to new clinics as most of the deaths occurred during home births.
Herein, lies the question: should we take the government for its word that it will finally get on top of the situation after failing to do so over the 15 period that it had set itself? What really will be different now?
It is however, not our intention to criticise government or anyone else.
This is a sad state of affairs but it is possible to remedy through concerted and holistic action.
And the first step begins with identifying the reasons why we failed in the place and in that regard, government should be commended for implying that they shoulder some of the responsibility through the failure to road facilities leading to new clinics, which is why many of the mortalities occurred during home births.
Development partners have been playing their part especially through funding and awareness programmes. We also call upon the public in general to play their part.
And it is particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS where we can play our role through behavioural change.
Vast amounts of money can be poured in and all kinds of programmes as well as utilities such as condoms and medication can be availed but without behavioural change, everything will come to naught.
Youths need to abstain and if they cannot, then at least correctly and consistently use protective methods that are widely available before engaging in sex.
However gloomy the picture may seem, ours remains a reasonable hope that with a holistic approach in which all stakeholders from government to the public play their part, the war can be won.