U.S. hands over biosafety lab to Zimbabwe

A new, upgraded biosafety level 2+ laboratory has been handed of by the United States to Zimbabwe's Minister of Health, Dr. Henry Madzorera.

The facility, which will be used to enhance the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare's capacity to aid in clinical and diagnostic testing as well as in the research of indigenous and exotic agents that could cause serious disease following inhalation, including TB, typhoid, anthrax and the H1N1 virus.

“This is an historic occasion," Charles Ray, the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe told the Zimbabwe Telegraph. "The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with a non-traditional partner, a private research laboratory administered by the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory and Biomedical Research and Training Institute. This cooperation will significantly enhance Zimbabwe’s testing efficiency and enable research capacity as never before,” said the U.S. Ambassador."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief gave the laboratory $120,000 to renovate its laboratory and procure supplies. The CDC also trained lab personnel on conducting assays and quality assurance.

“This is a good sample of collaboration and working together," Dr. Madzorera told the Zimbabwe Telegraph. "I was pleased to hear that we are now one of the top four level 2+ laboratories in the region. It means we are no longer going to export testing samples to South Africa or Zambia for H1N1 and many other diseases."