Given the geographical intricate TB/HIV disease burden and movement of people across the borders of the two countries, Lesotho and South Africa agreed in 2017 to improve cross-border disease surveillance using seven (7) zonal cross-border committees by establishing the Thabo-Mofutsanyana, Leribe and Botha-Bothe (TLB) zonal multi-sectoral cross-border committee to oversee and coordinate cross border health related factors.
A quarterly meeting between the two countries was held in Leribe, Lesotho from 31 January to 01 February 2018 to finalize the Terms of Reference (ToRs) and develop draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The meeting also produced an operational plan out of work plan agreed by the two countries in 2017 and mapped out the diseases for surveillance at the borders as well as the way forward. The meeting was attended by 24 participants from both Lesotho (Leribe and Botha-Bothe) and South Africa (Thabo Mofutsanyana) districts.
Under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems (SATBHSS) project it was resolved that the project participating countries; Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia establish a total of 24 zones in their respective regions to tackle health related concerns. The 7 zones between Lesotho and South Africa form part of this regional approach to improving disease surveillance across borders in the Southern region.
The main purpose on these 7 zones identified in the 2017 meeting between Lesotho and South Africa is to improve cross border collaboration in surveillance, using the one-health approach. The Terms of Reference (TORs) were discussed and adopted by the two countries to guide the collaboration on cross-border diseases surveillance and it was agreed that even though the main focus is on TB and HIV, other diseases will also be considered such as Listeriosis that affect the two countries and also touch on cross-border movement of people and goods.
In addition, the 2018 operational work plan was developed by the two countries during this meeting with reference on the already agreed work plan. The operational plan was based on the quick gains using the available budgets as well as the activities that were already budgeted in the project. The framework for the SOPs was also developed during the meeting and will be finalized later. It was also agreed that the next quarterly meeting will take place in May 2018 where different stakeholders will present progress made on the agreed assignments. Participants also agreed to engage and brief other stakeholders about the concept of the cross border disease surveillance.