Researchers Challenge Gov’t on Mass Covid-19 Testing Services

The government has been urged to maintain and upscale the Covid-19 testing services to enable the effective management and control of the virus in the community.

Doctor Jonathan Kitoonsa, a Researcher at the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute-MRC/UVRI, indicates that is still significant to both research purposes and community health for government to continue providing Covid-19 testing services at all times.

Early last month, the World Health Organization-WHO declared that Covid-19 disease was no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

The declaration came at a time after Uganda had already relaxed on its surveillance interventions including withdrawal of mass Covid-19 testing, following a sharp decrease in the number of positive cases.

However, speaking during a public health dialogue in Masaka city, Dr. Kitonsa argues that the complete suspension of testing services presents a serious risk to the country’s health system, which may leave room for another outbreak of Covid-19 and other respiratory infections that may catch the country off guard.

He says that although Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency, the country needs to continue keeping track of its occurrence in the community, to enable it effectively plan its response interventions in case of a re-emergence of an outbreak.

According to Kitonsa, in the absence of continuous testing services at health facilities, the country cannot effectively monitor the emergence of new disease variants, hence frustrating response plans and research which is needed in the longer-term management strategies.

Dr. Kitonsa indicates that the majority of the health facilities are out of stock of Covid-19 testing kits, and as a result, they are no longer able to post data on the Ministry of Health portal, hence faulting the World Health Organization’s recommended strategic preparedness and response plan.

Dr. Kitonsa appealed to the government to consider integrating Covid-19 surveillance and management services into the other respiratory diseases cycle to achieve sustainable comprehensive management of the disease, which is within the broader disease prevention and control programs as recommended by WHO.

Doctor Faith Nakiyimba, the Masaka District Health Officer says that they are aware of the significance of the testing on the management of the diseases, but due to financial constraints, the government could not afford the services all through.

She says that they are emphasizing mobilization of the community to embrace Covid-19 vaccination services such that they can be protected from hospitalization once they contract the virus.

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