Princes visit Lesotho: BBC News miss the point

Mother and baby visiting doctor’s surgery in Lesotho. Image: Goronwy Jones

The BBC News story on Lesotho tonight (June 17) was the worse piece of reporting I’ve seen for some time. One in five of the population in Lesotho are infected with HIV and about 50 people die from AIDS each day. Compare this fact to the sound bite that the BBC chose to use from Prince William: “seeing the smile on the children’s faces was…errrr…made you smile.” Well done, really powerful stuff BBC.

I was saddened to read, in the Guardian article on June 6, that hundreds of people from the independent country of Lesotho petitioned the parliament and the South African High Commission requesting that their country be integrated into South Africa, which completely surrounds it.

I  met Price Seeiso of Lesotho two years ago, as he visited a Welsh charity – Dolen Cymru – that works to offer its support to the country. He said: “it has been an inspiration to me that in a small corner of the British Isles there are people who want us to find a way out of our difficulties.” Yet despite the 23 years of dedicated support that Dolen Cymru has offered, the  situation in Lesotho is devastating.

As the Guardian states:

“In 1980, Lesotho produced 80% of the cereals it consumed. Now it imports 70%. The only real cash crop is marijuana, grown between rows of maize and smuggled to South Africa on donkeys. Drug cultivation is such a lifeline that the children clothed and fed with its proceeds have a name: bana bamatekoane (children of marijuana).”

To add to their server economic problems, the nation is experiencing a dramatic escalation in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Due to the sheer amount of people affected by disease, Lesotho hospitals are extremely understaffed; in one day a single doctor must care for 70 to 100 people.

Some mothers would have walked several miles to reach the landing strip and receive vital medical attention for their babies. Image: Goronwy Jones

Dr Goronwy Jones, who has worked for over 25 years, has recently returned from a voluntary placement in the country. He spent eight weeks as a Flying Doctor in Lesotho; when he wasn’t flying, Dr Jones was in the operating theatre standing in as an anaesthetist. He said:

“The hospital conditions were horrendous and extremely basic. Despite this I was extremely impressed by the outstanding work that was being achieve in such conditions. It is quite incredible how highly skilled the nurses are and the sheer amount of work that they undertake is simply mind-boggling.”

Dr Jones with Mrs Mohapi, a general surgeon, after she had just removed a bullet from a young man’s abdomen. She was the only specialist born and bred in Lesotho. Image: Goronwy Jones

When a country is fighting for survival the BBC, as the most powerful news corporation in Britain, has a duty to ensure that they create reports that engage and galvanise viewers. Images of bumbling princes simply are not good enough.

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An environmental journalist and communications trainer, Bethan specialises in nature conservation and social justice

Posted in Media
One comment on “Princes visit Lesotho: BBC News miss the point
  1. Jim says:

    “When a country is fighting for survival the BBC, as the most powerful news corporation in Britain, has a duty to ensure that they create reports that engage and galvanise viewers. Images of bumbling princes simply are not good enough.”

    Hear, hear; well said.

    Nice piece 😉

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