In Ethiopia, a mobile lab is helping in the fight against AIDS. In the “Energy for Life“ project, Siemens worked with the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). Together, they developed a mobile lab that can perform HIV tests independent of onsite infrastructure.
About 1.5 percent of the adult population in Ethiopia is HIV positive, which means about 800,000 people. Furthermore, there are around one million AIDS orphans in the East African country. But over the past year, there has been a positive development: New HIV infections have been reduced by ca. 25 percent. To support this positive trend Siemens has established a mobile laboratory that provides HIV tests free of charge and consultation wherever people work and live. As part of the social responsibility project, Siemens donated the lab to the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO).
Providing the resources to help independent of infrastructure
The lab – installed in a truck – is a fully functional lab equipped with diagnostics systems and tests from Siemens. Two generators donated by Siemens supply continuous power – especially important for storing blood samples taken prior to the diagnostic test. Enough power is produced to cool blood samples for 24 hours. A water tank has also been installed, helping the lab to run for a week without external water supply. So that as many people as possible can take advantage of the testing service, the mobile lab is also open outside “normal“ business hours. This enables government employees, maids, and day laborers to be tested, as well. The mobile lab stops at public places such as train stations and busy streets in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Abeba.
60 people tested per day
Ever since the mobile lab opened six months ago, a total of 14,188 HIV tests have been performed – averaging 60 tests per day. Although the majority of the people tested are male (72 percent), the percentage of women who tested positive is higher. Those who test positive are referred to the WWO Aids Health Care Foundation family clinic or other hospitals for further treatment. According to Sophia Mengistu, pediatrician at WWO, the donation by Siemens allows her organization to provide free-of-charge HIV tests, evaluate them the same day and curb the spread of HIV among the Ethiopian population.
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