Windhoek –The U.S. Government has donated laboratory equipment to support the Ministry of Health and Social Services in its ongoing efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high-tech equipment, valued at US$422,000 (approx.N$6.2mil), consists of 30 centrifuges, 15 vortex mixers, 12 biosafety cabinets, 10 refrigerators and 10 freezers.
The equipment will be distributed throughout Namibia and will strengthen laboratory capacity, provide a safer working environment for laboratory staff, and increase the availability of temperature-controlled storage for samples and tests.
Today’s lab equipment donation, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is part of the N$100 million of COVID-19 assistance for Namibia from the U.S. Government, which the U.S. Embassy announced in April 2020.
Centrifuges and biosafety cabinets enable laboratory staff to safely process COVID-19 specimens. Centrifuges spin at high-speed to isolate the infectious material needed for testing. Biosafety cabinets provide specialized shielding and air flow to keep infectious virus away from the face of the laboratorian working with the COVID-19 specimens. Refrigerators and freezers not only allow for holding specimens at the correct temperatures before and after testing, but also provide proper storage to guarantee quality testing. Vortex mixers mix the sample to ensure that the virus is as evenly distributed as possible during the RNA extraction process.
The U.S. Government is a committed partner in health with Namibia and has worked closely with the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) to build COVID-19 testing capacity since the start of the pandemic. With support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other stakeholders, including USAID, Namibia has implemented standard operating procedures for the safe collection and transport ofCOVID-19 specimens, safe handling of specimens in clinical and laboratory settings, and quality assurance in testing procedures.
The laboratory equipment was procured by USAID’s supply-chain partner Chemonics and handed over to the NIP, the largest diagnostic pathology service provider in the country, to enhance the capacity to screen and test for COVID-19 nationwide.
“This donation builds on the United States’ promise to assist Namibia as we all battle this virus. We are in this together. America remains committed to contributing to global health security and humanitarian assistance worldwide and here in Namibia,” said U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services has laid the groundwork in making sure the country is prepared for any impact from COVID-19. The people of Namibia have played an active role intaking the required precautions and implementing regulations to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.