Ministry of Health Launches Point of care Early Infant HIV Diagnosis (EID)/Viral Load Machines

Telephone: General Lines:           340874/231563/9
Permanent Secretary’s Office:     256 - 41 - 340872  
                                         Fax:     256 - 41 - 231584

P. O. Box 7272
Kampala, UGANDA

Press Statement

KAMPALA – 22/09/2014 – The Ministry of Health has today rolled out a new transformative point-of care diagnostic machine, which gives instant results for the detection of genetic material of the HIV virus. The small, highly portable machine-known as SAMBA II, developed by Diagnostics for the Real World, a spin- out company from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, has already been validated in Makerere University & John Hopkins University Collaboration (MUJHU) and Arua RRH and found to have high sensitivity and specificity against conventional platforms.

This point of care machine will help transform the lives of tens of thousands of especially HIV exposed infants, who have a 50% chance of early death if HIV infection is not diagnosed within the first six weeks of life and if they are not immediately initiated on treatment.

Our current centralized Early Infant Diagnosis program using conventional platforms for DNA based HIV tests takes many hours to perform and requires specialist facilities and highly- trained personnel. Along with these challenges, the centralized testing requires transporting samples over long distances to centralized laboratories which creates numerous logistical and financial problems. In the current EID program, over 40% of positive infants are lost to follow up before they can be initiated on treatment. By bringing this rapid test, SAMBA II, to the point-of-care many of these challenges will be resolved.  SAMBA II, therefore comes at the right time to improve access to EID and viral load monitoring services in Uganda.

In addition to delivering accurate Early Infant Diagnosis from a small “pin-prick” blood sample, SAMBA II is also designed to measure the level of HIV in the blood of adults and children for monitoring ART adherence and effectiveness. SAMBA II, therefore provides an alternative that can complement the existing platforms and improve access and patient outcomes in Uganda.
SAMBA II makes use of innovative technology to offer an effective sample–in-results-out test without the need for centralized laboratories or specialist technicians. It integrates the whole testing process within a single instrument using ready- made disposable cartridges. Easy to read results are obtained in less than two hours and indicated by a simple blue line similar  to a pregnancy test.

In order to understand how easy to use the SAMBA II platform is, the Ministry of Health Uganda has decided to undertake a task shifting study, to evaluate how different cadres of health workers are able to use this technology after minimal training. The study is involving 42 different cadres of health care workers of with varying levels of qualification from different Health Facilities from across the country.

After the training, pilot implementation will be conducted in a few health facilities representing the entire tier of the health system across the country. This pilot implementation will demonstrate the ease of using SAMBA within our environment. Results of this pilot will inform the scale up in Uganda.

We are grateful for the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Uganda and Diagnostics for Real World, University of Cambridge (UK). We look forward to more collaboration that will improve our EID program and ART monitoring.

For God & My Country
Sarah Opendi
Minister of State for Primary Health Care