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Thursday 8 September 2011

Kenya: Aids Orphanage Unveils World-class Diagnostic Laboratory

Being the pioneer diagnostic technology in the country, the lab will be the centre for testing of drug resistant strains of HIV and TB which will allow proper analysis of the nature of HIV infection for specific and effective administration of drugs.

By Elisha Ratemo

NAIROBI--The children of God Relief Institute famously known as “Nyumbani Children’s Home” opened its highly equipped HIV diagnostic Laboratory on 6th September at their Karen home in Nairobi.

The Sh 63 million (US$667) state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratory is funded by donations from the home’s benefactors in the US, UK, Australia, Italy and Kenya, with most of the equipment being imported from the US.

  Kenya’s Minister for Medical Services Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o graced the occasion. Also in attendance was the apostolic Nuncio to Kenya Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, honorary consul for Ireland, Joseph T O’Brien, among guests.

Speaking during the opening of the facility, the minister said the diagnostic centre was an important step in improving health systems in the country, where he said the government through its cooperation with the private sector, will commit towards providing equitable and quality health services.

“We continue to foster partnership with the private sector in improving health delivery service”, said Prof. Nyong’o. “This centre is an important step towards improving our health system and will provide a platform to ensure that advanced medical treatment can be offered in our country.”

Being the pioneer diagnostic technology in the country, the lab will be the centre for testing of drug resistant strains of HIV and TB which will allow proper analysis of the nature of HIV infection for specific and effective administration of drugs. The new laboratory is an upgrade of an existing diagnostic centre which has been in operation since 1998.

The lab intends to increase provision of specialised services to the Nyumbani organisation and the general public at large which now stands at 4,000 lab tests each month.

The diagnostic centre has been certified by the Alliance Bioscience, a US- based Biosafety consulting agency during an accreditation assessment visit to the facility, paving way for its ISO: 15189 certification.

While addressing the function, Sister Mary Owens, the executive Director of “Nyumbani”, said the organisation will continue to provide quality service to ensure that poverty does not become an impediment to quality healthcare, giving testimony of some of successes by the home.

Sr. Owens appealed to donors to make available the needed equipments for the TB lab and called on pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of HIV drugs to make treatment more affordable.

“The companies should look beyond profits and consider compassion for persons with HIV”, she said. “Where health is concerned, access to treatment is a basic right.”

The Nyumbani Home was founded by the late Father Angelo D’Agostino and Sister Mary Owens in 1992 to care for the abandoned HIV positive children. Increase in number of cases that the orphanage could not directly manage led to the inception of “Lea Toto”, an outreach project that provides care to HIV positive children and their parents in the slums of Nairobi. Later, the Nyumbani Village in the eastern district of Kitui that provides the same care to orphaned children under care of elderly adults was founded. Today there are about 114 abandoned AIDS orphans living in the Karen home, with over 3000 HIV positive individuals depending on its outreach programmes.

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