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Rwanda and Belgium have entered a five-year-long partnership that is geared towards strengthening laboratory testing for tuberculosis.
The partnering will see the Belgium-based Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) sharing best practices with the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and the University of Rwanda (UR).
The development was announced during the launch of the collaboration to build capacity for molecular surveillance and promote antimicrobial stewardship and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The event that took place on Wednesday, January 18 was attended by researchers from RBC, UR, and ITM.
Claude M. Muvunyi, Director General RBC said that the collaboration is going to strengthen the institutions and ensure they are capable in terms of fighting and preventing malaria and tuberculosis.
“In five years, we plan to grow the national tuberculosis laboratory which will not only oversee the laboratories in the country but also in the region making sure that tuberculosis diagnosis is improved,” said Muvunyi.
He added that through the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), UR intends to establish remarkable stewardship to become a center of excellence.
Leen Rigouts, a Senior Scientific Expert Mycobacteriology Unit at ITM, said that the program is launched in Rwanda but will serve bordering countries to improve health adding that they choose it because they had very enthusiastic students from Rwanda, and they inspired them to start this program here.
“We are working to improve the diagnosis of TB, malaria, and NTDs if we can strengthen the laboratories, and human capacity to do research,” she said.
Rigouts added that the students in these fields will be given scholarships to do master’s and Ph.D. training from Belgium Universities through the five years collaboration, while ITM will be exchanging staff so that they can learn from each other.
“Compared to the neighboring countries Rwanda is performing well, nevertheless there are still some areas to improve,” she said.
Patrick Migambi, the Division Manager of TB and other Respiratory diseases at RBC, said that the number of TB patients is not so high according to the World Health Organization (WHO) report of last year, which shows that only 57 per 100,000 people have TB.
Acsa Igizeneza, an Assistant Lecturer and Researcher at UR said that the collaboration is going to equip them with enough skills research, and practical to help students to understand thoroughly the implications of wrong antibiotics prescription.
Igizeneza explained that the students will get first-hand exposure to learning from experts, adding that they will also have an opportunity to get scholarships from Belgium universities to further their education.