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Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania Celebrate Milestone in Strengthening Nation's Health Care System
Date:7/28/2008

Partnership Will Modernize All Regional Hospital Laboratories to Improve

Access to Care Across the Country

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, July 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- At a ceremony today, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, United Republic of Tanzania, and Abbott Fund commemorated the latest step in a nationwide initiative to upgrade Tanzania's health care system, laying the cornerstone for the first of 23 hospital laboratories to be built or modernized across the country. The laboratory at Amana Regional Hospital is the first of four laboratories targeted in 2008, with the remaining laboratories scheduled for completion by 2010.

"We have ambitious treatment goals for the more than 2 million people living with HIV in Tanzania, as well as broader challenges in meeting the needs of people who require long-term monitoring and care for diseases like diabetes," said Hon. David Mwaykusa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, United Republic of Tanzania. "Modern hospital laboratories are the building blocks for successful treatment, and we are grateful and excited to work with Abbott Fund on this project."

The Regional Laboratory Modernization Project is an innovative partnership between Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania that will construct a flexibly designed, standardized modern lab in 23 regional and district hospitals across Tanzania. These larger laboratories provide support for 77 district hospitals, improving health care for millions of people across the country.

"This laboratory improvement project is an important part of our continued partnership with the Government of Tanzania to make sustainable improvements to the health care system in Tanzania," said Catherine V. Babington, president, Abbott Fund. "We're improving the delivery of quality care for Tanzanians by upgrading testing services that are critical for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and many other conditions."

Resource-limited health care systems, including a lack of modern hospital laboratories, continue to be a key barrier to providing quality care for hospital patients across Tanzania. A 2002 public health assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the limited capacity of laboratories in Tanzania was one of the weakest links in the provision of quality HIV/AIDS services.

Ground was broken in mid-July to begin construction of the new laboratory at Amana Hospital. More than 1,500 patients are seen each day at this busy city hospital. Space in the existing laboratory is extremely limited, making it difficult to meet growing patient needs and forcing staff to put in significant overtime to process the average daily workload of tests for up to 500 patients. It is estimated that the new laboratory capacity will be tripled following improvements, allowing patients and physicians same-day access to lab results.

In addition to the work being conducted at Amana, it is anticipated that modernization will be completed at regional laboratories in Dodoma, Kagera and Tanga by the end of 2008. The project is estimated to cost more than U.S. $10 million by its 2010 completion.

Public-private partnerships have been an essential part of the program. Abbott Fund and Design 4 Others (D4O), a U.S.-based not-for-profit initiative of the global science and technology design firm CUH2A, are working together with the Government of Tanzania to provide a standardized design that will ensure that patients across the country have the same quality of diagnostic testing. Consulting input is also a key to the program's success, with important expertise provided by the U.S. CDC - Tanzania and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

"The health care system improvements supported by the Abbott Fund will help extend U.S. Government efforts to improve the health of the Tanzanian people," said Hon. Mark Green, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania. "The modernized laboratory at Amana will serve patients seen at the new HIV care and treatment center funded by PEPFAR, which is a clear reflection of how governments and the private sector can work together for the common good."

The nationwide Regional Laboratory Modernization Project expands on extensive earlier lab work by Abbott Fund at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, and the work completed in 2007 to modernize the laboratory at Mt. Meru Regional Hospital. The improvements and training at Mt. Meru have resulted in a tripling of the laboratory's testing capacity from 45 to 150 patients per day, a nine-fold increase annually in number of tests processed, a dramatic reduction in turnaround time and increased health worker productivity. The work at Mt. Meru provided a model and proof of concept that a nationwide laboratory modernization program was possible.

About Abbott Fund in Tanzania

Improving hospital laboratories is the latest effort in the ongoing partnership between Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania, which began in 2001. To date, Abbott Fund has invested more than $50 million to strengthen Tanzania's health system.

In 2007, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) honored Abbott Fund with an Award for Business Excellence for National Action for its public-private partnership with the Government of Tanzania to fight HIV/AIDS. Key results to date include:

-- At Muhimbili National Hospital, the national teaching and reference

hospital for Tanzania, Abbott Fund built a new outpatient center that

serves hundreds of patients each day and integrates HIV care with other

services, and renovated, automated and computerized the central

pathology laboratory;

-- Trained more than 10,000 health care workers;

-- Provided HIV counseling and testing for more than 150,000 people, and

donated one million rapid HIV tests to the Tanzanian national HIV

testing initiative; and

-- Helped more than 150,000 children and families by providing access to

health services, education and training, and pioneering legal

protection for orphans and widows affected by HIV/AIDS.

Because of the significant work being conducted in Tanzania, in 2007 Abbott Fund opened its first satellite office in Dar es Salaam.

About Abbott Global AIDS Care Programs

For more than 20 years, Abbott has made a significant contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS through the development of innovative tests and medicines. Expanding on its scientific contributions, Abbott and Abbott Fund have invested more than $100 million in developing countries to improve the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS through programs targeting critical areas of need, including strengthening health care systems, supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and advancing HIV testing and treatment. For more information on these programs, please visit http://www.abbottglobalcare.org.

About Abbott and Abbott Fund

Abbott Fund is a philanthropic foundation established by Abbott in 1951. Abbott Fund's mission is to create healthier global communities by investing in creative ideas that promote science, expand access to health care and strengthen communities worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.abbottfund.org.

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 68,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com.


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