DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, July 28 At a ceremonytoday, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, United Republic of Tanzania,and Abbott Fund commemorated the latest step in a nationwide initiative toupgrade Tanzania's health care system, laying the cornerstone for the first of23 hospital laboratories to be built or modernized across the country. Thelaboratory at Amana Regional Hospital is the first of four laboratoriestargeted in 2008, with the remaining laboratories scheduled for completion by2010.
"We have ambitious treatment goals for the more than 2 million peopleliving with HIV in Tanzania, as well as broader challenges in meeting theneeds of people who require long-term monitoring and care for diseases likediabetes," said Hon. David Mwaykusa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare,United Republic of Tanzania. "Modern hospital laboratories are the buildingblocks for successful treatment, and we are grateful and excited to work withAbbott Fund on this project."
The Regional Laboratory Modernization Project is an innovative partnershipbetween Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania that will construct aflexibly designed, standardized modern lab in 23 regional and districthospitals across Tanzania. These larger laboratories provide support for77 district hospitals, improving health care for millions of people across thecountry.
"This laboratory improvement project is an important part of our continuedpartnership with the Government of Tanzania to make sustainable improvementsto the health care system in Tanzania," said Catherine V. Babington,president, Abbott Fund. "We're improving the delivery of quality care forTanzanians by upgrading testing services that are critical for the preventionand treatment of diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and many other conditions."
Resource-limited health care systems, including a lack of modern hospitallaboratories, continue to be a key barrier to providing quality care forhospital patients across Tanzania. A 2002 public health assessment conductedby the Ministry of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) foundthat the limited capacity of laboratories in Tanzania was one of the weakestlinks in the provision of quality HIV/AIDS services.
Ground was broken in mid-July to begin construction of the new laboratoryat Amana Hospital. More than 1,500 patients are seen each day at this busycity hospital. Space in the existing laboratory is extremely limited, makingit difficult to meet growing patient needs and forcing staff to put insignificant overtime to process the average daily workload of tests for up to500 patients. It is estimated that the new laboratory capacity will betripled following improvements, allowing patients and physicians same-dayaccess to lab results.
In addition to the work being conducted at Amana, it is anticipated thatmodernization will be completed at regional laboratories in Dodoma, Kagera andTanga by the end of 2008. The project is estimated to cost more than U.S.$10 million by its 2010 completion.
Public-private partnerships have been an essential part of the program.Abbott Fund and Design 4 Others (D4O), a U.S.-based not-for-profit initiativeof the global science and technology design firm CUH2A, are working togetherwith the Government of Tanzania to provide a standardized design that willensure that patients across the country have the same quality of diagnostictesting. Consulting input is also a key to the program's success, withimportant expertise provided by the U.S. CDC - Tanzania and the Association ofPublic Health Laboratories (APHL).
"The health care system improvements supported by the Abbott Fund willhelp extend U.S. Government efforts to improve the health of the Tanzanianpeople," said Hon. Mark Green, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania. "The modernizedlaboratory at Amana will serve patients seen at the new HIV ca