KIGALI - The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has donated US $ 6.8million (Rwf 3.9billion), to the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), whose aim is to boost the capabilities of laboratory systems in various countries.
Rwanda, together with 18 other African countries that include Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Ethiopia will be some of the beneficiaries of this fund.
This move comes at a time when African medical laboratories are pushing for global accreditation and seeking ways to improve diagnostic tests in a bid to improve health care.
Two weeks ago, at the launch in Kigali of the first-ever laboratory workshop that aimed at highlighting this need, the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, noted that it is not fair that anyone should be exposed to false (laboratory) results because of lack of quality.
“Improving the quality of laboratory services is extremely important because it enables us to be excellent centres of quality health care,” Sezibera said.
Officials also identified; lack of equipment, proper funding, better training for workers, and orderly management as major lab constraints in Africa – a reason why only a handful of laboratories on the continent are accredited.
According to a statement from APHL, the new agreement will assist African laboratories seeking accreditation through the newly launched accreditation programme.
The programme is sponsored by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) in collaboration with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The statement also adds that APHL’s Director for Global Health, Ralph Timperi, is ‘very excited’ about the prospect of working with the WHO AFRO/CDC accreditation programme, adding that it provides practical tools and assistance to strengthen quality practices in developing laboratories in countries’.
“It enables labs to advance through a series of accreditation levels to continually improve testing quality and improve patient care.
This is a smart approach that will develop sustainable capacity for quality services in African countries,” Timperi added.
The five-year cooperative agreement with the Global AIDS Programme at the CDC will also support laboratories in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.