Thursday, July 16, 2020

Testing Kit Shortages in Africa

Central African Republic’s health minister has blasted a "big inequality crisis" in coronavirus testing as he sees rich countries conduct hundreds of thousands of tests daily while his own struggles to obtain supplies for a couple of hundred at most.
Pierre Somse told a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing on Thursday that "we are in a scarcity, a misery of tests" - a blunt assessment of the scrambling by African nations and rising fears as the pandemic’s first wave hits the continent of 1.3 billion people.  The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong ,warned that as Africa's cases continue to climb sharply "we are in for a long, long journey".
Somse said his country of more than four million people is still waiting for testing supplies ordered via the WHO.
"I believe this is due to global competition, this is well known," he said. "It’s hiding a major health problem because we cannot have the real situation,” the health minister said. Without donations of testing materials from the Chinese, “we could not have done nothing, nothing at all".
He called for more than just talk about global solidarity in the pandemic, especially for "small and fragile" states, saying his own is being "completely overlooked" in the global race for testing and medical supplies.
There is no doubt about the lack of testing materials, especially for low-income countries that rely on international support for procurement, said the WHO Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti.
Even South Africa, the continent's most developed country, has pointed out shortages of testing materials as the backlog of tests at one point reached nearly 100,000 and the average wait for some results reached 12 days.

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