THE United States (US) government has donated laboratory equipment to the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) to support the Ministry of Health and Social Services in its ongoing efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy minister of health and social services Esther Muinjangue yesterday officiated at the ceremony at the NIP's warehouse.
"These pieces of sophisticated equipment are very valuable and reflect the US government's intention to improve the health of all Namibians," she said.
The equipment donated is valued at US$422 000 (approximately N$6,2 million) and will be distributed across the country to various NIP laboratories.
According to Kapena Tjombonde, the NIP's chief executive officer, the equipment would also be used in the event of another disease outbreak, and would be distributed to the following laboratories and units: Windhoek Central Reference, Oshakati, Outapi, Tsandi, Okahao, Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Gobabis, Katutura, Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Walvis Bay and Usakos.
Kapena thanked Lisa Johnson, the US ambassador to Namibia, for her government's generosity and for its continued faith in the mandate of the NIP through funding and support.
In April 2020, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it would pledge N$ 100milion of COVID-19 assistance to Namibia from the US Government. The lab equipment donation is part of that pledge.
Johnson said that the US government is committed to the health of Namibia and has worked closely with the NIP to build Covid-19 testing capacity since the start of the pandemic.
"With support from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and other stakeholders, including USAID, Namibia has implemented standard operating procedures for the safe collection and transport of Covid-19 specimens," she said.
The equipment consists of 30 centrifuges, 15 vortex mixers, 12 biosafety cabinets, 10 refrigerators and 10 freezers.
The donation comes after the NIP launched a research unit in March.
The institute tested the first batches of specimens for Covid-19 on 10 March 2020, and by March 2021 has tested 221 000 specimens out of 347 000 in Namibia.