NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Although largely unrecognized, laboratories are critical to disease control, including HIV/AIDS. Laboratory systems enable accurate disease detection, confirmation, treatment, and monitoring; however, under-resourced laboratory systems in sub-Saharan Africa threaten effective disease response and control. Today, at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, Siemens Healthcare, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced “Stronger Together,” a new five-year Commitment to Action valued at $15 million, to strengthen laboratory systems in sub-Saharan Africa. In collaboration with five African countries, “Stronger Together” will leverage the expertise of each partner to build laboratory infrastructure and human resources.
“Laboratory services are essential to the entire health care system and quality laboratory systems are a key underpinning of PEPFAR’s HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment efforts. We’re excited about working with CDC in this partnership with Siemens to advance PEPFAR’s ongoing effort to build laboratory capacity in countries with a high disease burden,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “This public-private partnership will build on PEPFAR’s existing training delivery approaches by using online learning tools to train thousands of qualified professionals working tirelessly to diagnose disease outbreaks and other diseases occurring in the population, so they can be treated effectively.”
As a global leader in clinical diagnostics, Siemens will provide laboratory training to laboratory personnel through its Personalized Education Plan (PEP). PEP is the in vitro diagnostics industry’s first virtual competency-based education and training solution, which is designed for advanced customized training. E-learning tools are not new to Siemens—the company currently trains its own global workforce using Web-based and mobile technologies. According to the CEO of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Michael Reitermann, “Lab tests that deliver timely, accurate, and reliable results, along with skilled laboratory personnel, are crucial for the early detection and management of HIV/AIDS and other epidemics. We are honored to work with PEPFAR and CDC to better equip laboratories in Africa with training solutions to fortify the skills and ability of lab personnel to fight these devastating diseases.”
Initially, “Stronger Together” will support capacity building for key laboratories in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia – countries where both PEPFAR and CDC have longstanding collaborations with the host governments. CDC, a PEPFAR implementing agency, has been heralded for its laboratory capacity building efforts achieved through PEPFAR. The agency also has a proven track record for strengthening global laboratory health systems to fight diseases.
PEPFAR’s health systems strengthening has not only proven critical to the HIV/AIDS response but also to addressing opportunistic infections that threaten the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, such as tuberculosis and malaria. In addition, in countries where PEPFAR has worked with partner governments to build capacity, those governments have leveraged the health systems strengthened through PEPFAR to respond to other diseases and disease outbreaks, such as the 2012 Ebola response in Uganda and the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti. Prompt and accurate disease detection is crucial to effective disease response and “Stronger Together” will expand the availability of necessary training in resource-limited settings, making countries with a high HIV burden better equipped to respond to and control their HIV epidemic. Coupling Siemens’ e-learning resources with the subject matter expertise of PEPFAR and CDC in monitoring laboratory safety and quality is in line with PEPFAR’s call for shared responsibility and has the potential for broad impact in strengthening health systems in the initial five countries and beyond.
“Stronger Together” is the brainchild of longtime PEPFAR supporter, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who knows that an investment in laboratories is an investment in life. “PEPFAR has made historic progress in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and caring for those living with the disease," Senator Coons said. "It has already had a transformative impact on the African continent and its potential for saving lives will only grow because of this new partnership. Bringing the remarkable technological expertise of Siemens to key labs in Africa will have a catalytic effect among the medical professionals working there every day to advance HIV-related testing and diagnosis. I've always been very optimistic about what a partnership like this could accomplish, and am very excited to see it get underway."
The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world's largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 52,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2013 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 13.6 billion euros and profit of 2.0 billion euros. For further information please visit: http://www.siemens.com/healthcare.
About the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. government initiative to save the lives of those affect by HIV/AIDS around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a sing disease internally and PEPFAR investments also help alleviate suffering from other diseases across the global health spectrum. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make investments that save lives. For more information about PEPFAR, visit http://www.PEPFAR.gov, www.twitter.com/PEPFAR, and www.facebook.com/PEPFAR.
About the U.S. Centers for About the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is America's premier health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency and a global leader in public health. CDC is one of the major operating components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is at the forefront of public health efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats. The agency is globally recognized for conducting research and investigations and for its action-oriented approach to public health. CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA) provides critical leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in resource-constrained countries by assisting partner governments to strengthen laboratory, epidemiology, surveillance, public health evaluation and workforce capacity-essential components for strong sustainable public health systems. For more information, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/globalaids.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.
CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative