Kenya launches modern diagnostics lab to boost HIV testing

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Kenya’s Ministry of Health and private sector partners on Tuesday launched a state-of-the-art laboratory to enhance screening of the HIV virus amid quest to eliminate the killer disease by 2030.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the ministry of health, said the launch of the advanced HIV testing equipment, through a partnership with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, will boost management of the HIV and AIDS pandemic that affects an estimated 1.5 million Kenyans.

“We are engaging the private sector to boost delivery of quality healthcare services, and the launch of the HIV diagnostic laboratory will help screen viral load on the infected and inform the best treatment options,” Aman said in Nairobi.

The new HIV diagnostic laboratory, called Cobas 8800, will be installed at Kenya Medical Research institute (KEMRI).

Aman said Kenya aims to achieve a 100 per cent HIV testing target in the near future through investments in modern diagnostic equipment.

“Accurate and efficient HIV testing will boost management of opportunistic infections linked to the virus,” he said.

“The Cobas 8800 that we are launching today marks a new milestone in the fight against HIV and AIDS and co-related infectious diseases like hepatitis B and C.”

Kenya, South Africa and Uganda are the only African countries where Roche has launched the state-of-the-art HIV diagnostic laboratory.

Roche CEO Severin Schwan said the launch of an upgraded HIV testing facility through a public-private partnership will boost Kenya’s war against infectious diseases.

“We are committed to be part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s healthcare agenda through investments in infrastructure that can aid diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases like HIV and AIDS and hepatitis,” Schwan said.

He said the new HIV diagnostic laboratory will be able to test an estimated one million people a year.