KIGALI - The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has donated laboratory equipment worth $300,000 (about Frw163m) to the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Kigali. Among the equipment were ten CD4 cell-count machines.
The State Minister in charge of Aids and other Infectious Diseases Dr Innocent Nyaruhirira received the equipment yesterday at NRL office in Kigali.
“They have come at time when we need them most. They will help in the follow-up of Aids patients put on Antiretroviral Treatment (ART),” Nyaruhirira said.
Among the Aids patients on ART whom the Minister said experience insufficient follow-up are children who make up 3.8 percent of the national figure.
With this donation, we are convinced that the capacity of Rwanda to assess and monitor patients for initiation and follow-up of ART will be significantly expanded,” noted Dr Joseph Foumbi, the UNICEF Representative to Rwanda.
Dr Foumbi said during the handover ceremony that their availability at decentralised levels is vital in combating HIV/Aids among the children especially vulnerable groups.
“The more the machines are distributed nationwide, the wider and quick laboratory testing of HIV/Aids status among the patients will be,” said Odette Mukabayire, the Director General of NRL.
Mukabayire expressed concerns over the delay of laboratory blood sampling results due to limited equipment.
“It would be ideal if each main hospital in the thirty districts had its own machine,” she said, adding that it would ease the work of the national anti-Aids campaign which targets children and women.
A teenage Aids victim, one of the patients who represented their colleagues at the handover ceremony of the machines said the equipment brought them hope for future survival.
“The care and drugs I receive from doctors have helped me to regain my life which I almost lost three years ago,” said a 17-year old boy who preferred anonymity.
Nyaruhirira said that part of the ongoing government initiative was the scale up plan for HIV/Aids Prevention of Mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and comprehensive childcare.