Strengthening diagnostics in Africa

Purpose-built training centre to increase much needed laboratory services.

Challenge

One of the greatest healthcare challenges for Africa is not developing diagnostic tools or providing treatments, but is in having enough trained healthcare workers to manage these tools effectively. 50-70% of clinical decisions depend on accurate laboratory diagnosis, so having reliable diagnostic capabilities is critical.

What we’re doing

To address the lack of trained diagnostic workers and laboratory capacity, we opened the Roche Scientific Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012. The training centre aims to provide:

  • hands-on, certified training courses for lab technologists and engineers
  • general lab management training for managers and policy makers
  • education on health and scientific topics for healthcare professionals and scientists

The facility boasts five self-contained laboratories with the latest technological tools in chemistry, haematology, molecular biology, tissue diagnostics and sequencing. Training is conducted by certified trainers and experts, in collaboration with local and international organisations.

In 2012 together with the the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) we formed a five-year partnership to strengthen training for diagnostics workers in Africa. The goal is to improve laboratory services, including certification courses for pathologists, molecular diagnostics and quality management. The partnership will include collaboration with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, increasing the sustainability of the partnership.

In 2104, we extended its partnership with Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Global Fund to fight HIVAIDS, TB & Malaria on a new Global Access Program for HIV viral load testing – launched at the 69th UN General Assembly in New York, USA. The Global Access Program specifically addresses the need for increased diagnostic testing and viral load assays with reduced pricing in those countries most impacted by HIV. This includes improving laboratory capacity to ensure that all people living with HIV can be linked to effective, high-quality HIV treatment services.

Optimising the use of diagnostics will be critical to achieving the targets of the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goal by 2020. This goal means that 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have durable viral suppression.

Our impact

To date the campus has hosted 444 courses and over 1,000 training days involving about 2,200 participants from 32 countries on 4 continents. The facility also plays regular host to HIV clinicians and meetings on various topics.

Tags: Access to healthcare, Africa