Roche And PEPFAR To Strengthen Laboratory Medicine Training And Knowledge In Africa

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On 3 December 2012, Roche Diagnostics and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced a public-private partnership to improve the capacity of laboratorians and strengthen laboratory systems in African nations highly impacted by HIV/AIDS. Valued at $10 million over five years, the goal of the partnership is to build institutional capacity of regional and national partners by developing certification programmes for laboratory technicians, strengthening pre-service curricula, and institutionalising quality improvement in diagnostic services.

“We are honoured that PEPFAR has partnered with us and we look forward to a successful working relationship. Our work with PEPFAR has demonstrated how the private sector can effectively apply its expertise to have a positive impact on healthcare in the regions most heavily burdened by diseases,” said Knut Seifert, country manager for Roche Diagnostics South Africa and senior vice president IPHO.

The partnership between Roche and PEPFAR will accelerate the training of laboratorians specifically related to in vitro diagnostics with the aim of strengthening laboratories and expanding the trained laboratory work force. The PEPFAR contribution to the effort will be implemented through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a global leader in laboratory systems strengthening.

The five-year public-private partnership will focus on:
• Developing competency and certification for Laboratory Human Resources for Health.
• Developing pre-service training curricula.
• Quality improvement for laboratory services, including certification courses for pathologists, molecular diagnostics and quality management.
• Collaboration with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) to strengthen local capacity and to promote country ownership and sustainability.

“Strengthening laboratory systems is a priority for PEPFAR because 50-70% of clinical decisions depend on accurate laboratory diagnosis. The dramatic scale-up of antiretroviral treatment requires strengthening partner countries’ laboratory systems, molecular diagnostics and monitoring, and human resources. PEPFAR is pleased to partner with Roche to strengthen targeted laboratory systems and thereby advance HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care outcomes,” said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

Today, according to UNAIDS, more than eight million people in low- and middle-income countries are on antiretroviral treatment.  PEPFAR directly supports nearly 4.5 million of these individuals on treatment, and is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of supporting six million by the end of 2013. Despite this progress, tremendous challenges continue for local health systems in areas most affected by HIV/AIDS.   Sub-Saharan African countries, home to the vast majority of those living with the virus, have only three percent of the global health workforce.  

“The collaboration between PEPFAR and Roche exemplifies the unique impact that public-private partnerships can have on addressing health challenges in the developing world,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are confident that the work started and systems put in place as a result of our collaboration will have long-lasting impact.”

Roche understands the challenge presented in facing the HIV pandemic and has formulated its response to this challenge through its AmpliCare initiative. AmpliCare is a multi-faceted programme from Roche Diagnostics, designed to enable people in low income and low-middle income countries and middle income countries with high disease burden with sustainable access to diagnostic solutions related to communicable diseases, with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. The training programmes provided by Roche in this partnership will form an important facet of its AmpliCare response.

“The collaboration between the Office of US Global Aids Coordinator/CDC and Roche demonstrates the unique impact that public-private partnerships can have on addressing health challenges in the developing world.  We are confident that this partnership will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” said Dr. Michael Heuer, Head of Europe, Middle East and Latin America, Roche Diagnostics.