Make functional GeneXpert machines to enhance COVID-19 testing – Lab scientists to gov’t

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Photo: Health Policy Watch

Medical laboratory scientists in Ghana are questioning why the government is yet to make functional the over 100 GeneXpert machines that can aid in sample testing of COVID-19.

In an address to update Ghanaians on COVID-19 on Sunday April 19, President Akufo-Addo announced the establishment of some testing centers across the country to enhance the country’s fight against the virus.

All the testing centers when established, can also use the PCR technology in their work under the supervision of the Noguchi Memorial Institute and Medical Research.

“We are recalibrating 100 Regional and District Tuberculosis Gene Expert Laboratories across the country, to help ensure that we have a minimum situation of one testing centre per region”, the President further stated.

But the group – the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) – said in a statement that a TB testing machine, when put to use, can produce test results for COVID-19 within 45 minutes.

“Why is there silence on the use of GeneXpert (TB testing machine which can be adopted to test for COVID-19) available in a minimum of 100 laboratories in Ghana? What is holding government from facilitating the procurement of reagents (cartridges) that could enable COVID-19 testing and produce results in 45 minutes using GeneXpert equipment?” the Association quizzed.

The Association further questioned government’s inability to install testing centers in other parts of the country, especially in the Bono, Ahafo, Upper West, Upper East and Bono East regions despite several calls from their outfit.

While reiterating its call for the implementation of the National Health Laboratory Policy (NHLP) to boost the country’s fragile health system, it also reminded government to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for “routing use and COVID-19 patient testing.”

The Policy, which was drafted between 2010 and 2013 is to improve the quality of preventive, promotive, and curative health care in Ghana by guiding the expansion of laboratory services in support of health care programs.

Successive governments have, however, failed to implement the policy.

By Jonathan Ofori, Daily Mail GH

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