(Photo: Amref Health Africa)
June 8, 2015 – Amref Health Africa, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) and partners will manage a five-year (2015-2020) USD $6 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant aimed at building the capacity of laboratory and blood transfusion services to respond to health needs of the population of the RSS. The project’s focus is to systematically strengthen the capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory to support country-wide laboratory services.
Led by Principal Investigator, Amref Health Africa’s Nairobi-based Dr. Jane Carter, with nearly thirty years’ experience in laboratory services in the field in Africa, the project will provide technical assistance to the RSS Ministry of Health to improve its capacity to coordinate, manage and regulate the provision of comprehensive, quality medical laboratory and blood transfusion services. It will also focus on increasing the training and output of laboratory personnel.
“Amref Health Africa is particularly well positioned to lead this critical project to help strengthen South Sudan’s laboratory and health system,” said Dr. Carter. “Apart from our expertise in laboratory services and our history of working in South Sudan, we recognize the importance of promoting country ownership and sustainability from the earliest stages of the project.”
As prioritized in the South Sudan National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2013-2017, the project will strengthen the National Public Health Laboratory to provide leadership for developing a national laboratory system and establishing a center of excellence to support clinical and public health testing needs in South Sudan, with a focus on HIV/AIDS. Amref Health Africa will also support development of a National Blood Transfusion Service to provide a safe, reliable blood supply to meet essential needs.
“We look forward to working with Amref Health Africa and partners to develop a national laboratory system, as well as an effective blood transfusion service. We have collaborated with Amref Health Africa for many years in the training of health workers in South Sudan. Their expertise in strengthening laboratory services, their commitment to creating sustainable solutions, and leadership in African health makes them a partner second to none,” said Hon Dr. Riek GaiKok, Minister of Health, Republic of South Sudan.
Laboratory services are crucial for effective delivery of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services as well as surveillance. HIV prevalence in RSS is 2.7% but only 41% of people aged 15-49 years have received an HIV test in the past 12 months and know their status. Weak health systems in RSS limit the availability of quality HIV and TB diagnosis, treatment, prevention and surveillance.
The majority of the 8.2-12 million South Sudanese do not have access to essential health services due to weak service delivery systems and health facilities that lack adequate governance, capacity, human resources, and management, financial, and operational systems.