Governments across the Sub-Saharan African region should partner with industry and multilateral lenders to boost large-scale testing of COVID-19 disease and halt its spread among communities, an expert said on Tuesday.

Ngozi Erondu, a biosecurity expert and associate fellow at the Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House, said that strengthening the capacity of African countries to test the viral respiratory disease holds the key to its containment.

“Testing should be ramped up so that countries are able to monitor the spread of the infection and do contact tracing and isolation as much as possible,” Erondu said during an interview in Nairobi.

The Nigerian epidemiologist in an article that was recently published by the medical journal, the Lancet said that the absence of a vaccine should nudge African governments to ramp up investments in testing infrastructure for COVID 19 in order to minimize community transmissions and deaths.

She said that Africa’s robust testing capacity for other infectious diseases like Ebola alongside HIV and Aids could be leveraged on to boost diagnosis and reporting of COVID 19 cases in the continent.

Erondu said that enhancing local production of diagnostic kits could provide solution to COVID-19 testing bottlenecks that many African countries are grappling with amid the rapid spread of the disease among communities.

“African countries should invest in scaling up regional production of testing kits, with international support,” said Erondu.

She said that Senegal, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya are among African countries that have potential to scale up domestic production of diagnostic kits for the highly contagious respiratory disease.

Erondu hailed the initiative launched by African Union (AU) and Africa’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention aimed at coordinating pooled procurement of testing kits amid huge global demand that has triggered supply chain disruptions.

She said that adherence to fair play and ethical standards by major economies is key to ensure low-income countries in Africa have access to medical supplies to combat COVID-19 like protective gear, therapies and diagnostic kits. Enditem

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