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Laboratory scientists call for massive Covid-19 testing

The Association of Kenya Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers (AKMLSO) has called for mass Covid-19 testing to give a clear picture of the disease positivity rate in the country.

AKMLSO National Executive Chairman Safari Kithi said the current positivity rate was based on results obtained from target groups and could therefore not conclusively give a true picture of the situation in the country.

“To determine the prevalence rate of a disease a lot of research is involved including collection of enough statistics from the study population,” he said.

With Covid-19 still posing a challenge to health systems across the world, Kithi said the government must move with speed and roll out mass testing for proper mechanisms to be put in place to contain the disease.

The government, he said, had received a lot of reagents and testing kits from the donor community which were rotting in stores as the country grapples with another wave of the disease.

“The government received a lot of rapid and molecular testing kits during the pandemic period which must be used to carry out this mass testing to give us a true picture of the disease in the country,” he said.

Speaking in Kisumu on Wednesday during the 27th annual AKMLSO scientific conference, Kithi asked the Ministry of Health to stop downplaying the presence of the disease in the country but take decisive steps to ensure that Kenyans are protected.

“The government has not declared that the country is Covid-19 free. It is here with us therefore a lot of testing and surveillance is key to win the war against the disease,” he said.

The mass testing, he said, should be carried out for at least three months and the data interrogated to come up with the right positivity rate.

He said proper diagnosis was essential in the management of the disease and the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme, urging the government at national and county levels to ensure that all laboratories were well equipped.

Moses Lorre, the conference organizing committee Chairman said laboratory technicians from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia were in attendance to assess the region’s Covid-19 situation.

Lorre said laboratory officers played a critical role in disease case management adding that accurate data for Covid-19 and other ailments was critical to keep the population healthy.

41 exhibitors drawn from the East African Community (EAC) showcased various equipment and technology which governments have been urged to enlist.

“We are now witnessing monkey pox which is another threat. We must embrace these technologies to get accurate data for proper decision making,” said Lorre.

By Chris Mahandara

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