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Strengthening Lab Capacity in Malawi and Mozambique

Ciheb was awarded two five-year awards from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen and advance laboratory systems in Malawi and Mozambique. Ciheb will receive $25 million over a five-year period. The initiatives focus on improving HIV-related laboratory infrastructure, data utilization, training and adherence to quality management systems in each country as part of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The awards build upon existing Ciheb laboratory programs in Nigeria and Kenya, which were funded through PEPFAR. As Malawi and Mozambique have expanded HIV treatment and care, the need for a robust and efficient laboratory services sector has become critical in securing epidemic control. One of the goals of PEPFAR includes building effective public health laboratory networks, the cornerstone of a strong response to HIV/AIDS and research.

An estimated 2.2 million Mozambicans were living with HIV as of 2018, with HIV prevalence at 12.6% for adults (ages 15-49). In Malawi, an estimated 1 million individuals were living with HIV in 2018, with HIV prevalence at 9.2% (ages 15-49). Approximately, 13,000 Malawians and 54,000 Mozambicans died from AIDS-related illnesses in that same year.

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With this new funding, Ciheb will introduce a comprehensive strategy that expediates a national model of laboratory quality improvement, enhances data use for efficiency and impact, launches a large-scale health informatics program, provides quality sample transport, optimizes clinical lab interfaces and supports accelerated and data-driven laboratory accreditation.

Ciheb will work with the respective ministry of health in each country to ensure country-level support for capacity development and policies for the management of high-quality lab services, thereby building strong country ownership for sustainability. The initiative will further promote sustainability by supporting south-to-south mentorship and collaboration among regional African laboratory networks.

“Malawi and Mozambique each face unique challenges in establishing a laboratory system to support their HIV response,” said Alash'le Abimiku, PhD, principal investigator of the grants and professor of medicine, Institute of Human Virology, senior technical advisor for laboratory programs at Ciheb, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We will systematically work with the health departments and ministries of health in each country to support the development of robust national laboratory programs.”

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