By Henry Neondo
Further deepening its commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, Abbott Fund announced yesterday that it is opening a new program office in Tanzania to manage its extensive HIV/AIDS philanthropic efforts and partnerships.
This is an additional fund to the recent USD9 million Abbott Fund awarded to several new HIV grants and brings the Fund’s total HIV investment in Tanzania to more than $50 million by the end of 2007.
The new Abbott Fund office, located in Dar es Salaam, is the first and only corporate foundation office in Tanzania and Abbott Fund’s first office outside of the foundation’s Chicago-area headquarters.
According to Christy Wistar, vice-president, Abbott Fund, "the Dar es Salaam’s new office will work to identify and fund innovative approaches to respond to the AIDS pandemic.
"Being part of the community provides a fuller appreciation of the overwhelming burden HIV/AIDS puts on the healthcare system," said Wistar.
"This firsthand and personal understanding enables us to develop practical solutions that are grounded in the realities of daily life in Tanzania, where transportation, food, and electricity can be significant barriers to treating patients."
He said that having a presence in the country will enable Abbott and Abbott Fund to further expand their long-standing partnership with the Government of Tanzania to help manage and treat the 2 million people currently living with HIV and AIDS throughout Tanzania.
In one of the most comprehensive efforts in Africa, Abbott Fund has been working in partnership with the Government of Tanzania for more than seven years to strengthen the country’s health care system to meet the lifelong treatment needs of people with HIV.
These programs have served more than 150,000 patients and families, and have trained more than 10,000 health care workers.
Through this partnership, Abbott Fund and the Government have strengthened and expanded HIV services at more than half of the country’s regional hospitals and at many district hospitals, health centers and dispensaries — covering more than 90 sites across the country.
For example, Abbott FUnd has built a state of the art outpatient treatment centre and a full-service clinincal laboratory at the Muhimbili National Hospital.
Muhimbili hospital serves nearly 1,000 patients suffering from HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases each day.
Abbott Fund Tanzania implements these and other HIV/AIDS programs through partnerships with Axios Foundation, and new grantees, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Family Health International.
Responding to the offer, the Minister for Health, David Mwakyusa, said the Government and people of Tanzania, were delighted that Abbott Fund is establishing a strong in-country presence.
"Our partnership has been instrumental in expanding access to HIV testing, treatment and care f or thousands of Tanzanians. By investing in our medical and laboratory facilities, training health workers, and building our hospital management capacity, Abbott Fund is helping the government strengthen our core health care system.
Globally, Abbott Fund’s HIV programs have served m or e than 600,000 people. M or e than 250,000 patients have been tested through Abbott Fund-supported voluntary counseling and testing programs, with thousands being referred to HIV treatment programs.
Abbott has also distributed more than five million free rapid HIV tests and sponsored events to train more than 20,000 health care workers, increasing the capacity of health care workers to diagnose, treat and support HIV/AIDS patients.