United States construct referral public health laboratory in Ethiopia

Agencies of the United States government inaugurated regional referral public health laboratory in Ethiopia and handed over to the Tigray National Regional State.

It is the fourth state-of-the-art regional referral public health laboratory in Ethiopia, constructed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Chargè d’Affaires, Peter H. Vrooman, was joined at the inauguration by H.E. Daniel Assefa, Mayor of Mekelle city.  In addition, representatives from the Tigray regional state, the U.S. Embassy, and others attended the ceremony.

The regional public health laboratory was constructed at a cost of USD $3.5 million (80 million Eth. birr) and will serve a population of approximately 5 million people in the Tigray region and northern parts of Ethiopia.

The facility will strengthen the surveillance and diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI), tuberculosis (TB), and other infectious diseases as well as play an integral role in Ethiopia’s public health emergency response system.  The newly constructed lab will provide external quality assurance services for the entire region’s hospitals and health center laboratories.

In addition, the regional public health lab will serve as a training site for laboratory professionals on the diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, HIV viral load and quality management system as well as serve as public health research institute for the region.

With a total floor area of 1,500 square meters, the new two-story building meets International Building Code standards and features fully equipped modern lab facilities, standard laboratory benches, epoxy floors and wall structures for better infection control.  It has mechanical ventilation and backup generator for the entire facility and a walk-in freezer and TB liquid culture Lab.

The construction of this new national training center is part of the U.S. Government’s long term commitment to strengthening infrastructure for health systems and to combat HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.  Through CDC, the United States has provided financial and technical assistance to the Ethiopian government for more than 15 years, improving national, regional, and facility-based laboratories, and supporting programmatic and surveillance activities that have helped stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, existing and emerging outbreaks.