Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A modern lab in Bagamoyo to diagnose Ebola, RVF

Tanzania will now be able to diagnose highly endemic diseases like Ebola, Rift Valley Fever and other deadly infectious diseases following enormous renovation of a bio-safety laboratory to be carried out by a constructor from South Africa mid this year. Located in Bagamoyo District in Coast Region the laboratory was constructed three years ago but failed to operate as it had some cracks in some of its spaces. The construction of the laboratory which was funded by the Italian Development Cooperation and the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI)  Briefing the Director for Preventive Services from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Neema Rusibamayila and other guests who visited the laboratory in Bagamoyo at the weekend, IHI Head of Laboratory Maximillian Mpina said when completed the laboratory will be a great help to Tanzanians. He was also attending IHI 10th anniversary in Bagamoyo. “Sending samples to other countries like Kenya and South Africa when there is an outbreak in the country is expensive and time consuming as well. So with this laboratory it will take a few days to diagnose the samples,” Mpina said. Mpina noted that the main characteristics of the bio-safety facility are specified as including having complete ceiling of the building in which it has been installed, the constant negative pressure in the working environment, and adherence to constant filtering of the air coming out of that laboratory through high efficiency filters. At a cost of 189,000 USD, the renovation will make the laboratory the best in East and Central Africa. “World Bank has provided 100,000 USD to facilitate the maintenance of the laboratory, IHI has raised 36,000 USD from its projects. So 50,000 USD more is needed to facilitate the repair of the laboratory, which if things goes well is expected to start operating later this year,” he said.  “The laboratory will be jointly managed and run by Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and key institutions of the ministry. The in-country expertise will facilitate the sustainability of the laboratory through research projects and diagnostic services during epidemics,” he said. On her part, Dr Rusibamayila commended IHI for its efforts and contributions through research projects and diagnosis services. She said upon completion the lab will also allow the establishment of a collaborative network between health organisations, universities and domestic and international laboratories of communicable diseases and for prompt laboratory diagnosis for identifying pathogenic agents. IHI General Director Prof Salim Abdulla said the country will be assured of saving billions of shillings annually in medical laboratory testing conducted abroad at high costs as many scientists and high-tech laboratories are available in the country now. “Bagamoyo is now firmly established as a world-class research centre. I have been particularly proud to witness the transformation of human capacity as young researchers have grown into independent scientists,” he said.

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