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World AIDS Day: Reflections on Laboratory Training in Ethiopia and Tanzania

Monday, December 2, 2013

 Marian Cavagnaro

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. Many members of the ASCP community work tirelessly everyday to fight this global pandemic at home and abroad.

Through the Center for Global Health and PEPFAR, ASCP has been able to work with several resource-limited countries abroad to increase laboratory capacity and reverse the tide of the disease that is the fastest growing threat to Africa.

Marian Cavagnaro, MS, MT (ASCP)DLM, director of laboratory services at Memorial Hospital in West Pembroke Pines, FL, shared her experience working as an ASCP Consultant in Ethiopia and Tanzania in an issue of Critical Values. Here is an excerpt.

I have been a laboratory professional since 1975. I began working with HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s as a laboratory supervisor at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL. It has been a profound experience to train laboratorians in hematology and laboratory management in Ethiopia and Tanzania over the last two and a half years.

My experiences in Africa have been life changing and life affirming. Trained and competent laboratory professionals are needed everywhere in the world. I have been involved with education and governance in ASCP for over 20 years. This has truly been an amazing opportunity to share my experience with others as an ASCP consultant.

To ensure reliable laboratory results – this is why ASCP is involved in building laboratory capacity in the PEPFAR countries.

Africa consists of many nations and many cultures. HIV/AIDS remains the fastest growing threat to economic, social and human development in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region worst affected by the AIDS pandemic. The region has just over 10 percent of the world’s population but is home to two-thirds of all the people living with HIV. Ethiopia, with a population of 64 million, is the third highest infected population in the world, with 3.5 million people. It is right on the border of Eritrea and Somalia. Here is a country, one of the very few in the world, which boasts of an ancient civilization, a written language and literature, an indigenous Christian Church, and its own liturgical language (Ge’ez).

HIV/AIDS has become the most important health problem in Ethiopia and a threat to the social and economic fabric of the nation. There has been a strong response since the late 1990s from public health officials, international organizations, local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and social researchers to the epidemic.

Capacity building efforts in Ethiopia include the following organizations: Ethiopian Ministry of Health, HHS/CDC Ethiopia, Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Institute (EH-NRI), Ethiopian Public Health Association.

You can read the full article online.

You can also find out more about the Center for Global Health and available consultant opportunities by going to the ASCP Institute website.