The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to distribute a million COVID-19 test kits from next week to help the continent fight a shortfall in testing, its director John Nkengasong said.
He is quoted saying, “There is a big gap on the continent on testing,” Nkengasong said at a weekly press conference at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. “Something has to be done.”
According to official figures, Africa has been hit less hard than other regions in the world by COVID-19.
However many countries in the region have limited testing thus depriving African officials a full picture of the disease’s spread.
Nkengasong noted that the problem was especially apparent in the continent’s two most populous countries.
Nigeria with nearly 200 million people has conducted around 6,000 tests while Ethiopia with more than 100 million people has conducted around 5,000, Nkengasong said.
He acknowledged that distribution of a million test kits is still far short of what is needed.
“Over the next three months or six months we probably need like 15 million tests, however a journey of 1 000 miles starts with the first mile,” he said.
The Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing or PACT is a new programme involved with distribution of testing kits and is working with African Union to get more African community health workers engaged in contact tracing.