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COVID-19 Preparedness in Lesotho

2 December 2020


The National University of Lesotho (NUL) is a growing institution striving to meet the needs of the nation through producing competent and skilled graduates. In response to COVID-19, NUL applied for a small grant from the Burdett Trust for Nursing, managed by THET, to build the capacity of nurse-midwives.

With the grant, the NUL Department of Nursing conducted a total of ten trainings – one training per district. The training program covered: epidemiology, IPC, clinical features and diagnosis of COVID-19, nursing management of a COVID-19 Client, ARDS and Septic Shock, psychological care of patients with COVID-19, as well as legal and ethical aspects related to COVID-19 for nurses. The training sessions involved a mix of presentations and individual study, and participants were tasked with developing a nursing care plan for a patient with COVID-19.

The health care system of Lesotho is already overburdened and lacks the requisite infrastructure to cope with the demands of COVID-19 as it traditionally relies on South Africa to provide complementary secondary and tertiary health care. The health care system suffers from an acute shortage of human resources, with only six nurses, one physician and a pharmacist per 10,000 people. The low-quality health care system increases the vulnerability of people living in Lesotho – including health care workers – to COVID-19. This adds to fatalities caused by other diseases, and morbidity, especially due to HIV and AIDS. National lockdowns have also made access to specialist health care services in South Africa impossible, leading to increased mortalities.

COVID-19 has impacted our project activities in a range of ways, for example, prices for goods and services became exorbitant, some of the venues initially identified for the workshops were turned into COVID-19 quarantine and isolation centres,  certain supplies were not available at the university store due to restricted movement and workshop participants (nurse-midwives) were sceptical about attending the workshop due to concerns about infecting one another.  But we had to adapt. We identified alternative venues, sought external suppliers to provide goods and services and reassured participants that we would strictly adhere to the national COVID-19 prevention and control regulations.

We had initially planned to train 160 nurse-midwives from the eight government hospitals, but in the end managed to train 173 nurse-midwives from seventeen hospitals; nine from government hospitals including the military hospital and eight from the Christian Health Association of Lesotho. According to an analysis of the training evaluation survey, the trainings met the expectations of the participants, they felt well equipped after the training and able to implement all that they were taught. This is going to translate into improved health outcomes, such as less infections and transmissions for the population served by those hospitals. The trainings reignited the spirit of nursing and reminded the nurse-midwives of the proper ways of rendering nursing care.

Not only did the project reach the Nurse-midwives, it involved Nurse Managers from six hospitals. The majority of whom left the trainings feeling confident in their ability to develop a teaching plan and a nursing care plan for a COVID-19 patient.

“On behalf of the participants I wish to thank the National University of Lesotho and the Partners (Burdett Trust for Nursing and THET) who are supporting this initiative.” – Mr Mabitso

COVID-19 has caused nurse-midwives to change their ways of attending to patients and rendering care. This partnership has indeed benefited our nurse-midwives on the ground and will touch on many Basotho lives, either directly or indirectly as they vowed to implement what was learned from the trainings. The National University of Lesotho Department of Nursing is keen to further capacitate, support, and strengthen Nursing Practice for the betterment of Basotho livelihoods; we therefore humbly invite and ask Burdett Trust for Nursing and THET for more partnerships of this nature.

– Mpho Shelile, National University of Lesotho

Head of Clinical Nursing Services officially launching the trainings at Berea. The launch was broadcasted on National Television.

Participants during the training in Quthing District.