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China, Lesotho Join Hands in Combating HIV/AIDS
    2008-01-23 23:28:44     Xinhua

Lesotho expects more Chinese medical teams and closer joint efforts on HIV/AIDS treatment, said the African nation's ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday.

"Fifteen is a small number, we need more Chinese doctors to help us" said Anthony Thibeli, who arrived in China in March 2006.

China sent its first medical team to Lesotho in 1997 and the second team arrived in Lesotho in 1999. A Chinese medical team comprising 15 doctors is currently deployed around the country in health care centers far from Maseru, the capital.

"People are in great need of their services," said Thibeli, citing the fact that Lesotho is one of the world's least developed countries according to the United Nations.

The HIV/AIDS infection rate in Lesotho used to be "alarming" at an estimated 31 percent -- or 682,000 -- of its 2.2 million population, one of the highest rates in the world, said Thibeli.

The figure of HIV prevalence has since fallen to 26 percent, largely due to the introduction of voluntary HIV tests for every household, as well as free counseling and medicines for every carrier in the last two years.

"We need more support from China," said Thibeli. Lesotho's Minister of Health and Social Welfare visited China last year to discuss with his counterpart possible cooperation on Chinese herbal medicine to treat the HIV virus, telemedicine and doctor training.

Roughly the size of Belgium, Lesotho is located at the southern tip of Africa, a landlocked kingdom entirely surrounded by South Africa.

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