U.S. government hands over equipment to support HIV viral load testing, early infant HIV diagnosis, and tuberculosis diagnosis

Minister of Home Affairs George Simbachawene and USAID Mission Director Kate Somvongsiri cut the ribbon at the handover event for laboratory equipment worth almost half a million Shillings to fourteen (14) health facilities supported by Tanzania Police Force and Tanzania Prisons. The equipment will

Dodoma – Today, at the Prisons Headquarters grounds located in Msalato area, Dodoma region, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, transferred laboratory equipment worth TZS 497,559,000 (USD 216,330) to fourteen (14) health facilities supported by Tanzania Police Force and Tanzania Prisons in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora, Tanga, and Zanzibar. The GeneXpert machines will improve HIV service provision at point of care sites in local communities for HIV viral load testing among people living with HIV (PLHIV) and support diagnosis of HIV exposed infants. GeneXpert machines and iLED microscopes will contribute to tuberculosis (TB) control in Tanzania through strengthening TB diagnostic capacity that will increase TB case identification, leading to treatment.

As implementing partner of the Police and Prisons activity, Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS) Executive Director, Dr. Redempta Mbatia, handed over the equipment to the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. George Simbachawene. The equipment was received on behalf of the supported health facilities. The donated equipment will be installed at health facilities with high patient volume and poor diagnostic capacity.

According to the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS) 2017, HIV prevalence is 4.9% among people 15 years old and above. Prisoners are at higher risk of TB and HIV infection due to their environment, and high-risk behavior among some population groups, e.g., sex workers, and people who inject drugs. Prior to this donation, out of 64 supported health facilities, only ten (10) had GeneXpert machines; used mostly for TB diagnosis, and nine (9) had iLED microscopes for TB diagnosis. This results in low HIV viral load testing coverage among PLHIV in supported health facilities and low health facilities and community TB case identification. USAID’s Police and Prisons activity will target the identification of PLHIV through partner testing, transitioning to optimal antiretroviral regimens, multi-month drug prescriptions, viral load suppression, TB case identification, multi-drug resistant case identification, and TB prevention roll out. As a result of the equipment handover, over 16,000 PLHIV in 64 police and prison health facilities will benefit from improved laboratory services.

Speaking at today’s event, USAID Mission Director, V. Kate Somvongsiri said “The 10 GeneXpert machines and 10 iLED microscopes donated today are part of USAID’s commitment, through resources from the President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to support this vision. This equipment will enhance our ability to provide comprehensive HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and TB programs in Tanzania.”