IVORY COAST – Daily testing capacity of African countries has risen from 13,200 at the beginning of the epidemic to 105,000 tests at the moment.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Africa had its back to the wall, helpless in the face of the magnitude of a virus that appeared in Asia and quickly spread to the entire planet.
Only two African countries were able to test for the novel coronavirus at the time, Senegal, with its Pasteur Institute, and South Africa, the most industrialized country on the continent.
However, countries have begun to develop testing laboratories thus bringing a change to the dynamics.
Strongly supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), African nations have achieved a logistical and scientific feat.
As soon as the pandemic began, the Bank provided $2 million in emergency assistance to help the World Health Organization strengthen its capacity to support African countries.
Since March last year, the Bank has been helping countries cope with the health emergency and the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, notably through its Covid-19 Response Facility of up to $10 billion.
After a few months, African countries, which had very few diagnostic devices, set up to ten or more laboratories, depending on their geographical and demographic characteristics.
South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria quickly distinguished themselves on the number of daily tests, thanks to the growing number of laboratories made operational.
Detecting the virus, a race against time won hands down
Early detection has been instrumental in limiting the spread of the virus and has helped countries trace, isolate and treat confirmed cases.
As soon as the pandemic began, the Bank provided $2 million in emergency assistance to help the World Health Organization strengthen its capacity to support African countries
When the first case of contamination was announced on 11 March 2020, Côte d’Ivoire had no laboratory for detecting the coronavirus; it now has about 10.
In Burkina Faso, which initially transported its samples to Dakar, the number of screening laboratories has increased from 7 to 18, where test results are now obtained in 48 hours.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has set up testing centers across Africa’s most populous country to detect individual cases.
In Kenya, machines initially intended to test for HIV, tuberculosis or avian influenza, have been redirected to detect Covid-19, before the arrival of new machines being acquired by the government.
According to statistics compiled in March 2021 by the African Development Bank’s Regional Development, the number of analytical laboratories in Malawi has increased tenfold from 14 to 164 and 2.5 in Ethiopia to 66
In the Central African Republic, five new screening laboratories have been established.
The results of these efforts have been enormous. South Africa increased the number of daily screenings by seven times from 5,000 to 35,000, Ethiopia (3,000 to 12,400) and Burkina Faso (268 to 1,160).
“It’s a race against time, won hands down. Now we have to win the war against the coronavirus,” said Atsuko Toda, Africa Development Bank Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.