Gaborone, 28 August 2023. The Republic of Botswana and the World Health Organization today announced designation of the Botswana National HIV Reference Laboratory as a WHO Collaborating Centre of Excellence, in recognition of the laboratory’s excellence in the field of HIV diagnosis and the potential of deeper collaboration between it and WHO in advancing the health and well-being of people living with HIV.

Botswana has made tremendous strides in improving its diagnostic and laboratory systems, particularly in the areas of human capacity building, health event and outbreak detection and management, reduction of the turnaround time of laboratory results, expansion of the national public health laboratory testing menus, genomic sequencing for detection of newly discovered strong signals, as well as accreditation of its laboratories for improved and quality services.

Accreditation to these standards does not only allow Botswana’s public laboratories to be compared with the world’s best laboratories, but it also gives confidence to both patients and clinicians, that patient management and care are based on correct disease diagnosis.

The Botswana National HIV Reference Laboratory is not only accredited to ISO 15189, but was also designated as a WHO HIV Drug resistance laboratory (WHO HIV ResNet-HIV Drug Resistance Network) in 2019. The WHO HIV drug resistance laboratory operational framework offers guidance on how WHO HIVResNet laboratories function to support national, regional and global HIV drug resistance surveillance, by providing accurate genotyping results in a standardized format in line with WHO specifications.

In view of these developments, the Government of Botswana made a deliberate decision to designate the Botswana National HIV Reference Laboratory as a WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV drug resistance and other diagnostic testing. This was confirmed through the signing of the designation by His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, and the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Gaborone, Botswana this morning.

β€œDesignation of this laboratory as a WHO Collaborating Centre of Excellence gives our country the confidence that we are on the right track in the road to achieving the WHO 2030 goal for epidemic control,” said His Excellency Dr Masisi.

Dr Tedros said, β€œThe Botswana National HIV Reference Laboratory has long been a centre of excellence in responding to the challenges posed by HIV, and in supporting the health sector and communities at large to provide the diagnoses and details needed to make informed, patient-centred choices. WHO is proud to count the laboratory as a Collaborating Centre and looks forward to working together even more closely in providing the support and care needed for people living with HIV.”

For more information on this, please contact Dr Christopher Nyanga from the Ministry of Health on [email protected] or Mr Paul Garwood from the WHO Director General’s communications’ office on [email protected].


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