Official Handover of the Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV Reference Laboratory
Honorable Minister of Health Prof. Sheila D. Tlou in a ceremony on Sept. 7th
in Francistown to hand over the newly renovated Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV
FRANCISTOWN - A newly renovated Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV Reference Laboratory was officially opened in September, allowing Botswana to double the number of people monitored for HIV/AIDS treatment and care.
The U.S. government officially handed over the laboratory to the Botswana Government and the Hon. Minister of Health Prof. Sheila Dinotshe Tlou in a ceremony held in Francistown on Sept. 7.
Built on the premises of the former Jubilee Hospital, the reference laboratory has been renovated and equipped using more than $935,000 (P5.8 million) from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Technical support is also being provided by staff at BOTUSA to help equip and run the laboratory.
The state of the art Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV Reference Laboratory, now the second largest reference laboratory in the country, will alleviate pressure on the Gaborone reference laboratory which has been burdened with an increased workload under the success of the nationwide rollout of ARV treatment.
The laboratory will serve the whole of northern Botswana by conducting viral load and CD-4 testing and supporting all laboratory services related to the Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) program, which was rolled out last year as part of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program.
Mr. Philip Drouin, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, gave remarks and performed the official handover of the laboratory. "We are here today to congratulate Botswana in its rapid scaling up of programs like Early Infant Diagnosis and the ARV treatment program. We are also here to show that the U.S. Government is doing everything we can to help build capacity for continued scale-up of this good work," Drouin said.
In addition to the renovations and purchase of new equipment, PEPFAR is also supporting training for lab employees' use of equipment, the hiring of one new lab technician, as well as maintenance costs. These initiatives have already improved the capacity of the laboratory to conduct viral load, CD-4 counts, hematology, chemistry and serology testing for the follow-up of patients on ARVs.