From the field:
WHO Afghanistan continues to strengthen COVID-19 testing capacity across the country
COVID-19 has severely challenged Afghanistan’s already fragile health system.
However, preparations for vaccine rollout have signaled renewed hope in the country’s fight against the pandemic.
While vaccine roll-out planning is underway, Afghanistan is also prioritizing surveillance activities by increasing its in-country lab testing capacity to continue to identify cases and contain the spread of the outbreak.
Credit: WHO/Afghanistan Ahmadullah Amarkhil ￼ WHO Afghanistan Country Office is ensuring that investment in enhancing COVID-19 testing capacity remains a top priority since the gradual and phased vaccine rollout will not immediately stop the transmission of COVID-19 across the country.
The Ministry of Public Health, in coordination with WHO, established and expanded their testing network to 18 public laboratories. Collectively, they can perform 6,500 tests per round, and up to 19,500 tests per 24 hours as needed. Four more laboratories are expected to be operational by the end of January 2021, with plans to ensure that by June 2021, each province has at least one COVID-19 testing facility.
WHO is supporting the Ministry of Public Health by procuring essential laboratory supplies and equipment required for COVID-19 testing. A batch of laboratory supplies and equipment valued at approximately US$ 730,000 was recently dispatched to 12 provinces – bringing WHO's total procurement value of key laboratory supplies to the Ministry of Public Health to approximately US$ 3,380,000. Further supplies with an estimated value of US$ 9,240,000 are in the pipeline.
This investment will have a long-term payoff as the newly established laboratories will play a crucial role in improving the availability of and access to essential health services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO thanks the Asian Development Bank, ECHO and the World Bank for their generous financial support, enabling an effective COVID-19 response.