Sumbawanga — The Walter Reed Programme, Tanzania chapter, operating within the southern highlands zones has set up a gadget for routine viral load testing at three regional facilities, in Mbeya and Ruvuma, but the third waits fitting at the Rukwa Regional Referral Hospital. All have come at a total cost of over 4bn/-.
Dr Joseph Chintowa, WRPT's senior technical director, revealed this at a ceremony to hand over a Land Cruiser truck valued over 150m/- to the Sumbawanga District council of Rukwa region at a short celebration held here last Wednesday.
"Routine viral load tests improve treatment quality and individual health outcomes for people living with HIV... it also contributes to prevention, and potentially reduces resource needs for costly secondand third-line HIV medicines," Dr Chintowa added.
Further, he explained that the programme in Tanzania also administers allied initiatives in the regions of Mbeya, Rukwa, Ruvuma and Katavi.
" For a decade now WRPT, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has been leading a comprehensive HIV and AIDS care and support programme in the southern highlands of Tanzania ... it caters for more than 750 health facilities," he added.
In 2004, a US military HIV research programme (MHRP) began work on HIV prevention, care and treatment services, funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) under the country's department of state and the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator.
Dr Chintowa also revealed that the vehicle was bought with funds from the US President President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He named Mbeya Regional Hospital, Mbeya Regional Referral Hospital and Ruvuma Regional Referral Hospital in Songea Town as key centres where the testing apparatus had since been set up.
"Viral load testing and CD4 counts play a key role in the diagnosis of opportunistic infections and managing some aspects of treatment; but people living with HIV - and currently on antiretroviral therapy with routine viral load monitoring -- have better health outcomes than people monitored with CD4 testing alone," he added.
Further, he revealed that the viral load testing apparatus for Rukwa Regional Referral Hospital had since been acquired, but that it's installation still awaits expansion works on a special room that will house the facility.
On the vehicle, he said it would play a leading role in the fight against HIV and AIDs and urged the people to turn out for voluntary testing.
He also said the WRP-T project has since set up solar power panels at Dr Atman Hospital here within the municipality as well as at health centres at Muze and Ilemba within the Lake Rukwa basin in Sumbawanga district -- each at the cost over 50m/- On his welcoming address, Rukwa Regional Medical Officer, Dr Boniface Kasululu lauded the WRP move, saying it was timely as as reassuring, pledging it would be put to good use.
Sumbawanga District council Chairman, Mr Kalolo Ntila has meanwhile directed the acting district executive director, Mr Deogratius Kangu to ensure that the council honours such donation by using them to serve the people.