The Embassy of the United States of America on Thursday handed over prefabricated laboratory containers to Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) at Onandjokwe and Engela District Hospital respectively.
The containers were handed by the U.S. Embassy to Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Bernard Haufiku. The two containers will be used as viral load testing sites in Onandjokwe and Engela district hospitals.
U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton said the U.S. is working closely with the Namibian government to ensure specifically that HIV services, including HIV testing and treatment services, are available.
“Doing the test in this new lab will get the result back much faster to those who need them. The speed is important, because healthcare workers will be able quickly to make the appropriate clinical decisions that are key to keeping HIV patients healthier,” he said.
Currently only the Oshakati Laboratory can conduct viral load testing in the northern part of the country. Other tests have to be sent to Windhoek, which creates delays and raises the problem of the samples expiring before they can be tested.
Presently the Onandjokwe laboratory can only cover 35 percent of the district’s viral loads testing needs. The new laboratories will allow testing of up to 12 600 viral loads per year at each hospital, which is Onandjokwe and Engela.
Daughton said the mobile laboratories would be able to cover all the districts’ HIV testing needs due to their mobility.
“This initiative will strengthen the ability of the Ministry of Health and Social Services to meet the continuing demand for viral testing and it will reduce the turnaround time of the results,” he emphasised.
He further said it would improve HIV services that will enhance the quality of life of people living with HIV in the districts. “But we are not stopping here. Our target is to reach 100 percent viral load testing coverage across the country.”
Since 2004, the American government has invested more than N$270 million in the NIP in order to strengthen laboratory services so that Namibians can receive the vital, high quality HIV services they need.
There are more than 12 000 people on life saving antiretroviral treatment in the Onandjokwe district.