The new micobiology lab at Neno District Hospital

PIH’s Malawian sister organization Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU) recently inaugurated a new microbiology lab at Neno District Hospital, becoming the first district hospital in Malawi able to perform routine blood cultures, a vital diagnostic tool for detecting infections ranging from typhoid to sepsis. The lab was opened in a partnership between APZU, the Malawian Ministry of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before this lab opened, doctors in Neno would have to send samples to a lab in the capital city of Lilongwe and wait up to three or four weeks for results. Now, clinicians can have answers for their patients within 48 hours for some tests, and in as little as 12 hours for others.

In its first 2 weeks, the lab staff performed 14 blood cultures, and identified the bacteria Salmonella typhi (a cause of Typhoid) in six patients. The blood cultures are also able to ascertain which antibiotics the bacteria are resistant to, so that clinicians could immediately administer an effective treatment.

The APZU team hope to soon expand the laboratory’s services to include testing other biologic fluids (e.g. urine, sputum) to improve treatment of other infectious diseases that disproportionately burden the poor in rural Malawi.