Remarks by Peter Vrooman at the Inauguration Ceremony of Regional Public Health Laboratory

Remarks by
Peter Vrooman
Chargè d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy
at the Inauguration Ceremony of
Regional Public Health Laboratory
May 25, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Your Excellency Ato Daniel Assefa, Mayor of Mekelle City
Your Excellency Dr. Hagos Godefay, Head of Tigray Regional Health Bureau
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and delighted to be here with you all today to inaugurate this new state-of-the-art regional public health laboratory constructed in Mekelle.

The construction of this new facility, which is the fourth state-of-the-art regional referral public health laboratory in Ethiopia and the first of its kind in Tigray region, is part of the U.S. Government’s long term commitment to strengthening the capacity and infrastructure of Ethiopia’s national laboratory system.

For more than 15 years, the United States Government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Ethiopia has made significant investments and provided unwavering support to strengthen comprehensive HIV/AIDS programming, building organizational, management, and technical capacities of Regional Health Bureaus to deliver quality HIV services.

Ethiopia has also identified health system strengthening as a critical component of the national Health Sector Development Program. As part of this support, the United States Government through PEPFAR and CDC has been committed to engaging in the country’s effort to build the capacity of its public health facilities.

The construction of Tigray regional lab is part of this endeavor that aimed to increase health services and improve the lives and improve the lives a population of approximately 5 million people in Tigray region and northern parts of Ethiopia. 

The facility will strengthen the surveillance and diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI), TB, and other infectious diseases as well as play an integral role in Ethiopia’s public health emergency response system.  The newly constructed lab provides external quality assurance services for the entire region’s hospitals and health center laboratories. 

This complex includes structural elements which prevent the spread of infections such as a spacious work environment, mechanical ventilation, a back-up generator for the entire facility, and a walk-in freezer.  It will also serve as a training site for laboratory professionals on the diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, HIV viral load monitoring and to bolster the national quality management system.

So far through PEPFAR/CDC support, more than $60 million has been invested in the construction of eight outpatient facilities, six reference laboratories, and a national public health training center so that together we can serve patients in the highest HIV prevalence areas across the country and protect citizens from existing and emerging outbreaks.

I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the United States Government’s commitment to the global AIDS response, as ever, will remain strong, comprehensive and driven by evidence. We will continue to work with the Ethiopian government on a number of health and other developmental issues.

And Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Tigray regional Health Bureau for their fantastic coordination of efforts; and everyone who worked tirelessly to make this immensely important project a success!