Aids Weekly Plus
The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Roche Diagnostics have agreed to a five-year partnership to strengthen laboratory services in the African countries most affected by HIV/AIDS. The partners initiated this public-private effort to address challenges faced by local health systems in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the world’s HIV-infected population lives. At present, only three percent of the world’s healthcare workers live in sub-Saharan Africa.
PEPFAR directly supports 4.5 million persons on antiretroviral treatment (ART) in low- and middle-income nations; the United States plans to increase this coverage to 6 million persons by the end of 2013. The goal of the Roche/PEPFAR effort is to build the capacity of national and regional partners in Africa for diagnostic laboratory services. “Fifty to 70 percent of clinical decisions depend on accurate laboratory diagnosis,” stated Eric Goosby, MD, the US Global AIDS Coordinator.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a worldwide leader in strengthening laboratory services, will implement the PEPFAR end of this partnership. Steps will include the development of certification programs for lab technicians and pre-service curricula and the establishment of quality improvement for laboratory systems. Roche Laboratories will supply training programs for the initiative. The United States has committed $12 million over the five-year effort to promote country ownership and sustainability for diagnostic lab services.