Songwe, Tanzania – On August 4, 2021, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) transferred laboratory equipment worth TZS 424,361,043 (USD 182,993) to 19 health facilities in Katavi, Kigoma, Rukwa, and Songwe regions. The equipment will strengthen tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic capacity which will ultimately result in an increase in TB cases identification and hence contribute to TB control in Tanzania. These four regions are supported by USAID’s Uhuru TB and Family Planning Facility Solutions Activity for Local Organizations Network (TB & FP LON).
Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS) Executive Director, Dr. Redempta Mbatia, transferred the eight GeneXpert machines and 11 iLED microscopes to Songwe Regional Commissioner, Hon. Omary Mgumba, who received the equipment on behalf of all four regions. The event took place at Mlowo Dispensary in Songwe region. Attendees included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MOHCDGEC); President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG); Songwe’s Regional Medical Officer, Regional TB and Leprosy Coordinator, Regional Laboratory Technologist; and District Medical Officers for Mbozi and Tunduma Districts. The donated equipment will be installed at health facilities with high patient volume, identified by regional health managers. Tanzania ranks among the 30 highest TB burden countries in the world. USAID’s Uhuru TB and FP LON Activity aims to improve access to and use of quality TB and family planning services for better health outcomes in Katavi, Kigoma, Rukwa, and Songwe regions. Prior to this donation, these four regions had only 16 GeneXpert machines and 13 iLED microscopes serving a population of nearly 6 million. This results in low health facility and community TB case identification. GeneXpert diagnostic equipment reduces diagnostic turnaround time from two – three weeks to 90 – 120 minutes. iLED microscopy will be used to increase TB case detection at the facilities with no GeneXpert machines.
Speaking about the event, USAID Mission Director, V. Kate Somvongsiri said “The eight GeneXpert machines and 11 iLED microscopes are part of USAID’s ongoing commitment to strengthen tuberculosis laboratory services in Tanzania. These equipment are expected to increase identification of TB patients with an emphasis on reaching marginalized populations and reducing inequities in TB services. In order to realize the country’s mission to end tuberculosis by 2030, patients should be identified in a timely manner and treatment initiated early.”
THPS, a Tanzanian non-governmental organization, is implementing this activity in collaboration with Baylor Tanzania, MKUTA, and Ifakara Health Institute. THPS works in partnership with the MOHCDGEC and PORALG, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health in Zanzibar to ensure accessible high-quality health care services to Tanzanians. Their work includes strengthening health and community systems for comprehensive quality health services which address HIV/AIDS; tuberculosis; prevention of gender-based violence; reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health services; and laboratory and health management information systems.