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WHO to Distribute 60,000 Monkeypox Tests, Reagents to African Countries

The disease is diagnosed using Polymerase Chain Reaction machines. While all African countries have PCR machines that have been used to test for COVID-19, many countries like Uganda have been forced to ship samples to South Africa due to a lack of reagents and in some cases training in specimen collection, handling, and testing.
A child suffering from monkeypox
The World Health Organization-WHO will distribute 60,000 tests for MonkeyPox to African countries that are facing a high risk of reporting cases.


According to WHO, a total of 1,821 cases from 13 countries however only 109 of these have been confirmed from nine countries. Testing for the diseases is being carried out in seven countries that have the technology and reagents needed to carry out testing for the disease.


The disease is diagnosed using Polymerase Chain Reaction machines. While all African countries have PCR machines that have been used to test for COVID-19, many countries like Uganda have been forced to ship samples to South Africa due to a lack of reagents and in some cases training in specimen collection, handling, and testing. 



To improve the testing capability of countries, the WHO is going to distribute tests and reagents in different countries. The WHO Africa Region Director, Dr. Matshidisho Moeti made the announcement on Thursday during a weekly virtual meeting.


According to Dr. Moeti, the tests will be distributed to countries that face a high risk of reporting cases of the disease. For instance, these include countries like Uganda a neighbor of the DRC which accounts for more than 50 percent of the reported cases on the continent.


Dr. Moeti says the test will help boost surveillance and laboratory diagnosis of the disease. 

“The geographic spread of monkeypox to parts of Africa where cases have never been detected before is a worrying sign. It is critical that we support national efforts to boost surveillance and laboratory diagnosis, which are the cornerstones of disease control. We shall be distributing 2,000 tests to countries with high risks of reporting cases and 1,000 tests to those with reduced risk,” she said.

In addition to reagents, African countries reporting cases might not be able to carry out vaccinations against the disease. According to Dr. Fiona Braka, the WHO Africa region, Team Leader for Emergency Operations says the few countries with vaccines are keeping them in case cases increase. 


"At the moment Africa doesn't have vaccines for monkeypox because the countries with some doses are keeping them in case they get cases. There's still a lot that needs to be done to get doses," she said.

In light of vaccine scarcity, WHO recommends that vaccines be used for persons who have been exposed to the disease so that some doses can be shared with African countries that will need them.

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