BIPAI Lesotho operates the Baylor-Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Clinical Center of Excellence in the capital, Maseru, and satellite centers of excellence in Qacha’s Nek and Leribe districts. It also provides medical expertise, clinical supplies and professional training to an additional 82 health centers and hospitals run by the Ministry of Health throughout the country. The new satellite centers particularly help decentralize health care outside the capital, since each satellite acts as a catalyst to build its outreach programs, Teen Clubs and educational efforts. BIPAI staff mentor local nurses and doctors in government-run district health centers and hospitals eventually graduating these locations to independent provision of high-quality services for HIV infected children.
In many ways, geography remains the greatest hurdle for BIPAI Lesotho to overcome. Lesotho is small but very mountainous, making travel extremely difficult for people living in the country’s many remote villages. Thus, while Lesotho’s families need the same testing, counseling, care, treatment and psychosocial services typical of any HIV exposed family, BIPAI Lesotho faces significant challenges in getting its services and education to those people.
In the coming years, BIPAI Lesotho plans expand its psychosocial services for all ages, and support services for teens in particular. By the end of 2009-2010, Teen Club membership had grown to include 60% of all eligible patients, with participation in the 5-day camp, Camp ‘Mamohato.
Caring Fathers, a support group for men who have HIV infected family members, encourages men to get tested, access treatment and support their families. Also unique among the BIPAI network, Lesotho provides comprehensive medical evaluation of all children released for international and local adoption from orphanages in Lesotho. Thus far, 34 children have been evaluated.
GHC physicians are based at the Centre of Excellence in Maseru, and together with a strong local medical team provide direct patient care to HIV-exposed and infected children and their families. Additionally, they provide medical education to health professionals throughout the country through didactic lectures and side-by-side mentoring both at the COE and at health centres and hospitals across the country. GHC physicians spend approximately 25% of their time providing health education and medical care outside of the COE. Those interested in inpatient medicine rotate through pediatric wards at the nearby referral hospital – Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital – where they also contribute to training young physicians during their internship. Opportunities for medical student education will be available in the future as Lesotho is working with regional partners to establish its first medical school. Opportunities also exist for GHC physicians to contribute to local health care policy by serving on relevant technical advisory committees to the Ministry of Health.
Recently, BIPAI Lesotho has made efforts to improve and increase its local research capabilities. GHC physicians interested in research and quality improvement efforts will find a receptive environment. New programmatic endeavors are welcomed as the team recently received a grant to improve diagnosis of tuberculosis in children. BIPAI Lesotho is committed to improving the health and well-being of all children in Lesotho, leading to endless opportunities for motivated, innovative physicians.