Healthcare Services for Men by Men

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Male Nurses at Men's Clinic in Maseru
Makopano Letsatsi - EGPAF

Customized healthcare services for men attracts more men to access health services

“I applaud healthcare workers who work here at the clinic for their dedication, as I would not be alive today if it was not for their assistance” - Mphotle

Ever thought about how difficult it can be for men to seek medical help at a general hospital or clinic? Being surrounded by crying babies and female patients and healthcare workers can discourage men from seeking care and opening up about their health issues. Well, in Lesotho, USAID health partner The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), supported by the U.S. Presidents’ Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has found a way to help. They operate health clinics in Maseru especially for men, where Basotho men can access quality health care services. These clinics are operated in collaboration with Lesotho’s Ministry of Health at Queen II hospital and Maseru Seventh Day Adventist (SDA).

The men’s clinic at SDA opened in June 2017, and has provided HIV testing to over 4500 men to date. Zacharia and Mphotle are among the many men that the clinic has served, and they express nothing but gratitude when they talk about the life saving treatment and services that the clinic has brought to the community, including the service and treatment that they received that has helped them survive both TB and HIV.

Maseru SDA

Mphotle comes from Mafeteng district, south of the capital Maseru.  After seeing his mother suffer with HIV and finally succumb to AIDS, he decided to get tested for HIV at the SDA clinic in 2017. When Mphotle learned that he was HIV positive, the clinic sprang into action.  He was provided with thorough counselling and was immediately put on treatment. During the course of his HIV treatment, Mphotle began to lose weight and was referred to Queen II hospital by the doctor at his workplace, who recommended that he get tested for tuberculosis.  Mphotle tested positive, and received both HIV and TB medication at his preferred men’s clinic, the SDA. Mphotle is now cured of TB and very happy to use the SDA Men’s clinic for care. The extended and weekend hours are an extra convenience that allow him to get his medication when it suits his schedule. 

Zacharia, the other patient from the men’s clinic, is from Matsieng, also south of Maseru.  Like Mphotle, he has nothing but good things to say about the clinics. Zacharia is a self employed plumber who learned his trade working for construction companies after his arrival in Maseru.

“HIV you will know me better, you won’t get my blood and kill me, if I die, you also die” - Zacharia

Zacharia had a difficult upbringing. He lost his mother at the age of five and his father did not care for him. He dropped out of school after completing grade 9 and moved to Maseru for better opportunities. As a newcomer in the capital city, and still trying to find his way, he engaged in casual sexual relations and did not use protection. In 2003, he became sick and learned of his HIV positive status after testing at the hospital. However, Zacharia didn’t receive treatment right away. Worried about how others would see him, Zacharia kept his status a secret, and with no treatment, he experienced rapid weight loss.

Zacharia decided to take a stand against the disease that was taking its toll on his body and mind, declaring that “HIV you will know me better, you won’t get my blood and kill me, if I die, you also die.” Yet without treatment, his health only continued to deteriorate. Later he contracted TB, and this signaled a turning point. With his health failing, he went back to the clinic and started receiving both TB and HIV treatment at the men’s clinic. After six months, Zacharia was cured of TB and now continues taking treatment for HIV. Today he has regained his strength and is very grateful for the existence  of the men’s clinics. He now encourages other men to come forward to get tested and treatment.

The men’s clinic offers a safe space with male nurses and doctors which puts male patients at ease to open up about their health issues and ultimately helps them prevent the spread of HIV and related diseases. Today many Basotho men live longer productive lives because of these clinics.

The clinics provide comprehensive HIV and TB direct clinical services. Among the services provided are screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, care and treatment, PEP and PrEP, TB Screening and treatment, management of other opportunistic infections, condom distribution and education, healthy relationships services and counselling for HIV prevention, education on preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, and referral to voluntary medical male circumcision.

Providing male-focused services has been a welcomed initiative among men in Lesotho. “The introduction of Men’s Clinic has really done wonders for men,” says Zacharia.  “I encourage all men to come forward and know their health status.” The positive response has encouraged the Ministry of Health to scale up the men’s clinics. While there were only eight clinics in 2017, today there are a total of 24 across eight districts. 

Last updated: October 11, 2019

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