ZIMBABWE – Masvingo Provincial Hospital storeroom has been transformed into a new standalone microbiology laboratory by the United Kingdom’s (UK) Fleming Fund to strengthen antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Zimbabwe.

In addition, the laboratory was provided with new equipment such as an automated blood culture machine.

Blood cultures have always been a critical tool in the management of life-threatening conditions like septicemia, enteric fever, infective endocarditis, and brucellosis.

Today Masvingo is now able to conduct blood cultures, which will drastically improve patient management in the province.

“Our microbiology laboratory was almost non-existent. We used to send samples of our patients to Harare for testing, which delayed diagnosis and occasionally caused patients to pass away before the findings were available,” said Susan Taruwona, Masvingo Provincial Hospital Microbiology Laboratory Technician.

The UK’s Development Director and Deputy Head of Mission in Zimbabwe, Mrs Geraldine O’Callaghan expressed how the UK was glad to have funded the upgrade to these laboratories because of the positive impact this will have on Zimbabweans and the health sector.

“Reducing the time for laboratory samples to be analyzed allows patients to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment faster. This will ultimately save lives,” she said.

Masvingo Provincial Hospital Microbiology Laboratory is one of the 14 newly renovated laboratories furnished with modern equipment and reagent purchases as part of the £4 million (US$4.81m) Fleming Fund project, “Addressing Gaps in Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance in Zimbabwe.”

The project’s main goal is to support the implementation of activities outlined in Zimbabwe’s National AMR Action Plan (2017-2025).

Zimbabwe’s AMR Fleming Fund grant consortium of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI), and the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered to rehabilitate 14 human and animal health laboratories in three provinces (Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo) which were commissioned in May 2022. 

The rehabilitation process was part of the first phase of the project which focused on upgrading laboratory infrastructures.  As well as improved capacity at all Fleming Fund-supported sites for bacterial culture, identification, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) for relevant bacterial pathogens.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) through the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI) with support from BRTI, FAO and WHO formulated a One Health approach to strengthen the countries AMR surveillance.

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