Old Mutual strengthens NIP testing capacity

Donation of two QIAcube Connect machines

30 April 2020 | Health

On 28 April Old Mutual officially handed over their sponsorship of two new testing machines to the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) to strengthen their testing capacity amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.
The two QIAcube Connect machines NIP has received from Old Mutual will enable them to complete 72-96 additional extractions per day. These machines will be used to prepare samples for testing, which is an important function that is currently being performed manually at NIP.
“Now we will be able to run at least 180 tests per day with both manual and automatic testing. The demand of tests that need to be done every day puts strain on the supply, but the new machines enable us to increase our capacity and move in the direction of being fully automatic with testing,” said Boniface Makumbi, the acting chief operations officer at NIP.
“Our capacity of testing is increasing every day and we are proud to say that we have 10 medical scientists on site who are able to set up tests and run two shifts per day,” Makumbi added.
“We are currently working on our decentralisation plan to prepare selected places in the country for testing on site if cases increase. Areas such as Walvis Bay, Oshakati, Keetmanshoop, Rundu and Katima Mulilo are strategic areas and when testing will be decentralised, these areas need to be equipped to do so,” Makumbi further added.
All tests and training of personnel undergo quality assurance testing to ensure the validity and quality of each component.
Old Mutual invests in Covid-19 response
On 31 March Old Mutual pledged N$5 million towards the fight against Covid-19. The first area of support was the provision of food to vulnerable communities across all 14 regions, which will amount to a total cost of N$1 million.
The second area of support is the expansion of the country’s testing capacity, which will amount to the tune of N$2,7 million.
“N$1,7 million was invested in acquiring testing equipment, broadening the scale of testing and the procurement of testing kits. A further N$1 million will be invested in strengthening the contact tracing capacity,” said Kosmas Egumbo, the group CEO of Old Mutual.
“We have considered this support package based on the experience gained and lessons learnt from countries that have been fighting the impact of Covid-19. This revealed that large scale testing followed by effective tracing, isolation and treatment significantly contributes to an early flattening of the exponential infection curve, which will alleviate the pressure on our limited health facilities,” Egumbo further added.
Part of this sponsorship is a further 42 testing kits, but due to stock shortages 40 thereof has not yet arrived, but is expected to be delivered within the next few weeks.
Old Mutual will donate a further N$1,3 million to the National Disaster Fund towards the payment of allowances to temporarily recruited health professionals to assist the government in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is an example of what we can achieve when the private and public sectors take hands and join resources to work together as one,” Brian Eiseb, the NIP board chairperson added.
Eiseb added that it is imperative for NIP to upscale their capacity and capabilities of testing. “Not only will this sponsorship assist us in automating the extraction of the samples provided for testing, but will help us to protect our staff and their health with minimising their actual contact with the virus,” he added.
“To the men and women in the different areas in the fight against Covid-19, risking their lives while attending to the needs of a nation in a medical crisis we want to say: We are here for you,” Egumbo concluded.

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