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COVID-19 exposed West Africa’s diagnostic challenges

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

Experts under the aegis of the West Africa Medical Laboratory Scientists have lamented the impact of COVID-19, saying the pandemic exposed West Africa’s diagnostic challenges.

The expert said this at a recent meeting in Accra, Ghana, that the COVID-19 pandemic had further exposed the gaps in the sub-region’s health care systems.

In a communique issued at the end of the CelebrateLAB West Africa 2022 Conference, the experts noted that the initial difficulties with obtaining testing kits and other diagnostics supplies affected the region’s response to the pandemic.

“Additionally, the challenges in securing vaccines at the unset of the vaccine deployment across the world highlighted the need for West Africa to work relentlessly towards achieving self-sufficiency in vaccines, diagnostic kits and materials, and other medical supplies,” they further said

“Participants noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of laboratory diagnostics in disease surveillance and healthcare outcomes, and acknowledged the critical role Medical Laboratory Professionals have played in building diagnostic and surveillance capacity in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, participants commended their involvement in contact tracing, case finding, sampling, specimen transportation and diagnosis of the disease. The ability to ensure adherence to routine (Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) and documenting new guidelines for laboratory response during a pandemic is critical for areas such as chain of information, specimen collection and transportation, biosafety, and introduction of new products,” the communiqué partly read.

The experts also urged countries to move fast and put measures in place in readiness for the next pandemic.

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