WINDHOEK, April 26 — The University of Namibia’s School of Medicine officially inaugurated its Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL3) Laboratory on April 25, 2023. His Excellency Mr. Herbert Beck, German Ambassador to Namibia, presided over the inauguration.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a devastating disease that affects millions of people worldwide, killing 1.6 million each year. Namibia is among the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB, with 12,000 new cases and 1,500 deaths annually. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has claimed about 4,000 lives in the country. Improving healthcare and reducing the burden of infectious diseases requires suitable research and diagnostic capabilities.
To this end, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provided funding for a joint project aimed at strengthening the Namibian health system. Germany funded the infrastructure for a BSL-3 Laboratory with 6 million NAD through the German Development Bank KfW, while laboratory equipment and materials worth 3.5 million NAD were procured through the Federal States Programme (German: Bund-Länder-Programme; BLP) and implemented by GIZ. Additional funding of 1 million NAD was contributed by UNAM.
The new BSL-3 Laboratory is equipped to conduct research and diagnostic testing for COVID-19, tuberculosis, HIV, rabies, avian influenza, and other infectious pathogens. It could also support One Health surveillance activities and field interventions in Namibia. The facility will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Namibia Institute of Pathology, and other stakeholders to increase responsiveness and capacities in the country’s healthcare sector.
Dr. Emmanuel Nepolo, Head of UNAM Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, said that the new facility is a sign that Namibia is establishing local laboratory infrastructure and capacities to make it less reliant on other countries for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
The laboratory was designed in compliance with international standards and manufactured in South Africa. It comprises a containerized structure with medical equipment and a dedicated plant room for filter-controlled airflow. The laboratory incorporates various facilities, including Reagent Preparation, Specimen Receiving, Ante, Culture, and Detection Rooms.
The funding from the German government will allow UNAM to expand its research agenda and training with internationally renowned universities. The project aims to equip the School of Medicine with the necessary equipment to increase research outputs and diagnosis of public health relevance. – Namibia Daily News