Government of Tanzania and the Abbott Fund Dedicate the First in a National Network of Modernized Laboratories
Event Marks a Major Milestone in Partnership to Strengthen Nation’s Health Care System.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — Minister of Health Prof. David Mwakyusa today dedicated the first in a series of regional-level hospital laboratories being modernized or built across Tanzania, improving the quality of care for millions of people who rely on their services. The initiative is part of a successful partnership between the Government of Tanzania and the Abbott Fund to strengthen the country’s health care system. The Abbott Fund is the philanthropic foundation of the global health care company Abbott ( NYSE: ABT).
“I am happy to dedicate this model laboratory at Amana Hospital, and I look forward to seeing the continued progress of our nationwide partnership with the Abbott Fund,” said Minister Mwakyusa. “Improving our regional laboratory system is a critical piece of elevating the overall health of Tanzanians. Remarkably, this program touches people in every region of our country.”
The Regional Laboratory Modernization Project is an innovative partnership between the Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania that is constructing standardized modern labs across Tanzania. These regional-level laboratories provide support for 77 district hospitals, improving health care for millions of people across the country. It is anticipated that all 23 laboratories will be completed by the end of 2010.
“Diagnosis and monitoring are the very foundation of effective treatment, and laboratories are essential for quality health care,” said Christy Wistar, vice president, Abbott Fund. “Our partnership with the Government of Tanzania to modernize the regional laboratories is a testament to the Abbott Fund’s ongoing commitment to expand access to health care.”
In addition to the laboratory being dedicated at Amana, modernization projects are complete at the regional laboratories in Dodoma, Kagera and Tanga. The project is estimated to cost more than U.S. $10 million by its 2010 completion.
“We are so pleased that Amana was chosen as the first site for laboratory improvement,” said Dr. Willy Sangu, Medical Officer in Charge, Amana Hospital. “Amana is a very busy city hospital with high demands for our services from the neighboring communities. The opening of a new laboratory will have a strong impact on the way our doctors and nurses are able to assess and treat medical conditions.”
More than 1,500 patients are seen each day at Amana Hospital, located in the Ilala district of Dar es Salaam. Space in the previous laboratory was extremely limited, making it difficult to meet growing patient needs and forcing staff to put in significant overtime to process the average daily workload of tests for up to 500 patients. The new laboratory will have triple the capacity compared to the previous facility, providing patients and physicians with same-day access to lab results.
Resource-limited health care systems, including a lack of modern hospital laboratories, continue to be a key barrier to providing quality care for hospital patients across Tanzania. A 2002 public health assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the limited capacity of laboratories in Tanzania was one of the weakest links in providing quality HIV/AIDS services.
Public-private partnerships have been an essential part of the program. The Abbott Fund and Design 4 Others (D4O), a U.S. based not-for-profit initiative of the global science and technology design firm CUH2A, a division of HDR Architecture, are working together with the Government of Tanzania to provide a standardized design that will ensure that patients across the country have the same quality of diagnostic testing. Consulting input is also key to the program’s success, with important expertise provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Tanzania and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).
The nationwide Regional Laboratory Modernization Project expands on Abbott Fund’s extensive earlier work to modernize the laboratory at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, and the work completed in 2007 to modernize the laboratory at Mt. Meru Regional Hospital. The improvements and training at Mt. Meru have resulted in a tripling of the laboratory’s testing capacity from 45 to 150 patients per day, a nine-fold increase annually in number of tests processed, a dramatic reduction in turnaround time and increased health worker productivity. The results from Mt. Meru provided proof of concept that a nationwide laboratory modernization program was possible.
To help address the severe shortage of local, trained lab professionals, the Abbott Fund is working with Touch Foundation to support scholarships for more than 100 laboratory technology students at the Bugando University College of Health Sciences in Mwanza, Tanzania.
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