Modernized Hospital Will Improve HIV/AIDS Care In Tanzania

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. and NAIROBI, Kenya -- For the estimated 2 million Tanzanians living with HIV/AIDS, access to basic health services, counseling and treatment is nearly unattainable because of inadequate infrastructure and healthcare facilities, a shortage of specialized staff, and scarce resources. Today, at the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa, the Abbott Laboratories Fund, in collaboration with the Tanzanian government, reported on their efforts to help respond to this challenge.

Additionally, Abbott and the government of Tanzania announced a partnership, Tanzania Care, to modernize the country's public healthcare infrastructure and improve services and access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. Axios, an organization dedicated to improving health care in developing countries, is serving as the implementing partner for Tanzania Care by providing strategic counsel and working with the Tanzanian government, local contractors and organizations to oversee the program on a day-to-day basis.

Tanzania Care involves the renovation and modernization of the Muhimbili National Hospital, and the extension of HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services to the country's 21 regional hospitals. One of the primary goals of the new program is to assist the national hospital in establishing itself as a "Center of Excellence" and restoring its role as the country's primary research, referral and teaching facility. This multi-year, multi- million dollar initiative will include:

-- Creating a management structure, department organization, budget

process, planning cycle and financial controls within the Muhimbili

National Hospital;

-- Increasing the capacity of Tanzania's 21 regional hospitals to provide

VCT services as well as prophylaxis and treatment of opportunistic

infections;

-- Building a new outpatient clinic at the national hospital that

includes an HIV day care center, teaching facilities, and

counseling/psychosocial support facilities;

-- Renovating and completely upgrading the national hospital's clinical

laboratories;

-- Training health care staff in HIV care and treatment; reviewing and

updating the curriculum for physician, nursing and other paramedical

staff at the Muhimbili Medical College, which is affiliated with the

national hospital; and

-- Upgrading information technology, security, waste management and health

information systems throughout the hospital.

In 2003, Tanzania Care is initially focusing largely on making structural/organizational improvements at Muhimbili National Hospital and increasing capacity for VCT services to five of the 21 regional hospitals. In the years ahead, the program will enhance testing services at all 21 hospitals.

"The modernization of Muhimbili National Hospital is a vital advancement in Tanzania's fight against HIV/AIDS," said Ms. Anna M. Abdallah, Tanzania's Minister of Health. "We are in great need of support to strengthen our national health care system to help Tanzanians living with HIV/AIDS in the country's urban and rural areas. The government of Tanzania is committed to working within the government as well as with dedicated private sector partners, such as Abbott, to significantly enhance the quality and reach of our healthcare services."

Located in the capital city of Dar es Salaam, Muhimbili National Hospital is a 1,400-bed facility and the largest hospital in Tanzania. Serving four million people living in the Dar es Salaam region, the Muhimbili National Hospital is the main referral and teaching hospital, as well as the national reference laboratory for the country. The role of the national hospital as a reference hospital has decreased in recent years, because of a lack of resources and funding. With the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in Tanzania, the national referral system will be further challenged.

"Through Tanzania Care, Abbott Laboratories is committed to building sustainable health care infrastructure models to more effectively manage all aspects of HIV treatment, care and prevention," said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott Laboratories. "Public and private collaboration models that can positively address the needs of the current health care systems in developing countries will continue to be an essential tool in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic."

Axios will work with government officials, local contractors and national hospital staff to manage and execute the renovations through 2007. As part of the Tanzania Care program, Abbott Laboratories is providing the time and talents of employee volunteers. These specialized volunteers are lending technical support in the areas of engineering, waste management, health care management and information technology.

"Modern facilities and the restoration of Muhimbili's role as the national research and referral facility will enable a more efficient health care infrastructure and allow us to provide better, more advanced care for Tanzanians living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses," said Dr. Edward Ngwalle, acting CEO of Muhimbili National Hospital. "Our goal is to become a Center of Excellence for HIV care in the country and in the surrounding regions."

Through its Global Care Initiatives, which include Tanzania Care, Step Forward, Abbott Access and the Determine HIV Testing Donation program, Abbott and the Abbott Laboratories Fund are working to fight HIV/AIDS in the developing world, where the pandemic has hit the hardest and where the need for assistance is greatest.

While Tanzania Care addresses the infrastructure issue directly, Abbott Access provides Abbott's rapid HIV test and protease inhibitors to people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world, at a loss to Abbott. Abbott's Determine HIV Testing Donation Program is donating up to 20 million rapid HIV tests free of charge to qualified programs working to prevent mother-to- child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. In addition, the Step Forward program provides support to programs serving orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania, Burkina Faso, India and Romania.

Source: Abbott Laboratories

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