Monday, February 21, 2011

Help on Horseback

Lesotho, a country entirely land-locked by South Africa, consists mostly of mountains and high plateaus. Its mountainous landscape has proven to be one of its major challenges, but another pressing, and more deadly challenge is its high HIV infection rate; with approximately one in every four people suffering from the disease.

Its harsh and hilly terrain makes it very difficult to deliver life-saving treatment to those plagued by the disease. After a heavy rain or snowfall, transport to mountain communities is dangerous and often avoided. As a result mountain communities have been cut off for months at at time, without access to care, treatment, and prevention services.

Dr. Leo Buhendwa, country director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation decided that something had to be done. He decided to revive the old tradition of transport on horseback and adapt it to the current challenge facing his country. Horses and ponies are now being used to deliver essential AIDS medicine and treatment for those mountain communities who would otherwise not have access.

Dr. Buhendwa explains, "When you work with the people to solve their own problems, always there is a solution. As doctors, as nurses, as international partners, we are just there to help. We cannot do it ourselves-- we have do it with the communities."

-Martina Georgieva