By David Njagi
The Abbott Fund Wednesday announced a multi-million dollar initiative to upgrade 23 laboratories inTanzania’s regional hospitals.
According to chief executive of the foundation, Mr.Miles D. White, the organization will provide a further 1million free rapid HIV/AIDS tests in Tanzania.
Mr. White made the announcement while officiating theopening of a modern laboratory at the Mt. Meruregional hospital in Arusha, marking the start of acountrywide grassroots crusade against the HIV/AIDSpandemic.
The new state of the art laboratories will servicemore than 1.9 million Tanzanians, who have been reported to be HIV/AIDS positive.
“The opening of the Mt. Meru laboratory is a testament to our commitmentto our partnership with the United Republic ofTanzania,” said Mr. White, “it is a perfect example ofthe remarkable work we are doing together.”
About 150,000 Tanzanians have access to VoluntaryCounselling and Training (VCT), and one in three are on Anti RetroViral (ARV) drugs, but the number isexpected to scale up once the programme has enough funds.
Tanzania, which is also the most populous country in Eastern Africa, has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, standing at 7 per cent. But Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof. David Homeli Mwakuya believes that with a strengthened healthcare system, the percentage could be scale down.
While accepting the handing over of the laboratory to the United Republic of Tanzania by the Abbott Fund, Hon. Mwakyusa said his government was keen on working with partners in the area of health care, training,VCT and assisting vulnerable children to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
“The laboratory that I have had the honour to receive today on behalf of my patients and the government is modern not only in the architecture and engineering works,” said Hon. Mwakusa, “but more in the sate of the art equipment.”
Tanzania is a beneficiary of an estimate US $ 50million in various projects with the most recent being the opening of an office in Dar es Salaam, the first ever outside the United States of America.