Existing HIV and TB laboratory systems facilitating COVID-19 testing in Africa


Many nations in resource-limited settings have excessive HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and/or sexually transmitted an infection (STI) burdens. In 2010, WHO first really helpful using the Xpert MTB/RIF nucleic acid assay. In 2013, the WHO really helpful
HIV viral load testing by nucleic acid testing for all individuals dwelling with HIV on antiretroviral remedy with a view to monitor their therapy. During the last ten years, vital investments by nations and donors have significantly improved laboratory


In lots of settings, extremely expert employees have been re-prioritized to COVID-19 testing.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as of 2019, a complete of 412 laboratories in 17 African nations had been enrolled within the Stepwise Laboratory High quality Enchancment Course of In the direction of Accreditation (SLIPTA)[1] program with 78 laboratories attaining accreditation
in step with ISO requirements.[2] Via these efforts, the proportion of laboratories able to nucleic acid testing in Africa has expanded extensively. Actually, over 20 million HIV viral load assessments and over 11 million molecular TB assessments
had been performed in 2019.


Because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic, scaling up testing has been a essential element to establish, isolate, and hint suspected circumstances as efforts to cut back transmission and take care of sufferers early. Via conducting over 10 million assessments, nations
in Africa have recognized practically 2 000 000 COVID-19 circumstances.[3] In lots of nations, there was heavy reliance on the laboratory techniques constructed and developed by HIV and TB packages.

In lots of settings, machines have been shared throughout packages in addition to infrastructure, pattern transport techniques, and extremely expert employees. This has, nevertheless, triggered some disruptions for HIV and TB testing[4]. Extremely expert employees had been usually
re-prioritized to COVID-19 testing, reagents had been typically re-purposed for COVID-19, HIV and TB testing might have been de-prioritized, and general reductions in providers out there because of lockdowns, diminished facility attendance, and stigma.


Sample transport systems, one of the laboratory systems component, built and developed by HIV and TB programs are now shared with COVID-19 testing.
Pattern transport techniques, one of many laboratory techniques parts constructed and developed by HIV and TB packages at the moment are shared with COVID-19 testing.

Fortuitously, in some circumstances the disruptions have been short-term and significant assessments have seen volumes rebound; nevertheless, will probably be important for illness packages to work collectively and combine techniques to make sure the wants of every can and are being met constantly,
whereas the nationwide response to the pandemic is managed.


Antigen-based speedy diagnostic assessments (RDT) for COVID-19 at the moment are out there to complement nationwide testing methods. They’re cheaper than molecular assessments, simpler to make use of, and may present outcomes inside half-hour, permitting expanded entry to testing,
notably the place nucleic acid testing will not be out there or testing and outcome return turnaround occasions are prolonged. As nations have begun to obtain these assessments, they are going to seemingly proceed to leverage the prevailing providers that assist RDT testing
already in nation, particularly these established by HIV and malaria testing networks. This consists of human assets already educated to conduct testing, provide chain techniques, group outreach, high quality assurance mechanisms, mentorship practices, and so forth.

Transferring ahead, integrating and sharing applied sciences in addition to the supportive techniques will create a extra responsive, supportive, and environment friendly general patient-centric diagnostic community. Nevertheless, it stays important to proceed to assist and scale-up
case-finding and testing providers for HIV, malaria, and TB.


Pictures copyright: David Lewin, African Society for Laboratory Drugs.

[1] Ondoa P, Ndlovu N, Keita M-S, et al. Making ready nationwide tiered laboratory techniques and networks to advance diagnostics in Africa and meet the continent’s well being agenda: Insights into precedence areas for enchancment. Afr J Lab Med. 2020;9(2), a1103.


[2] ASLM:

[3] Africa CDC:


[4] Clinton Well being Entry Initiative. HIV Market Report: the state of HIV therapy, testing, and prevention in low- and middle-income nations. Situation 11, September 2020:

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