Botswana: Renovated Reference Laboratory Opens in Botswana (November 2007)

With support from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan/PEPFAR) the newly renovated Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV Reference Laboratory was officially handed over to the Botswana Government on Sept. 7, 2007. The state-of-the-art Nyangabgwe Hospital HIV Reference Laboratory is now the second largest reference laboratory in the country. More than $935,000 went into renovating and equipping the laboratory located at the site of the former Jubilee Hospital.

The new lab will allow Botswana to double the number of people monitored for HIV/AIDS treatment and care by alleviating pressure on the Gaborone reference laboratory. The laboratory, which will serve northern Botswana, will provide viral load and CD4 testing and support all laboratory services related to the Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) program, which was rolled out last year as part of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program.

In addition to the renovations and purchase of new equipment, PEPFAR is also supporting training for lab employees' use of equipment, the hiring of one new lab technician, as well as maintenance costs. These initiatives have already improved the capacity of the laboratory to conduct hematology, chemistry and serology testing for the follow-up of patients on ARVs. Technical support is also being provided by staff at BOTUSA (the Botswana/CDC Partnership) to help equip and run the laboratory.

During a ceremony held in Francistown, Mr. Philip Drouin, Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Gaborone, gave remarks and performed the official handover of the HIV Reference Laboratory to the Honorable Minister of Health Prof. Sheila Dinotshe Tlou and the Ministry of Health.

Also present at the ceremony were senior officials from the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) Coordinator Mr. Christopher Molomo, Francistown District Commissioner Mrs. Sylvia Muzila, His Worship the Mayor of Francistown Mr. Buti Billy, Nyangabgwe Hospital Superintendent Dr. Japhter Masunge and Laboratory Director Dr. Nathan Gokhale.

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