African countries struggle to find the coronavirus test kits they need
(Courtesy: THE NEW HUMANITARIAN)
“Test, test, test” has been the mantra for defeating the novel coronavirus, but African countries are finding themselves at the end of a long global queue for the chemical reagents and other commodities necessary for administering diagnostic tests, according to public health experts.
What testing is being done shows a steep rise in COVID-19 cases. In the past three weeks alone, the numbers have nearly trebled – from 33,273 on 28 April to more than 85,000 on 18 May – according to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest modelling by the World Health Organisation predicts 29 million to 44 million Africans could be infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail – with 83,000 to 190,000 deaths.
Although mass testing is seen as a key component to slowing transmission, African health authorities are struggling to compete with richer, more powerful countries when it comes to procuring the scarce testing material on the global market, notes a new commentary published in The Lancet scientific journal.
“Even where there is enough money, many African health authorities are unable to obtain the supplies needed,” the commentary points out.