Health News

COVID-19: Laboratory Scientists Insist On The Use Of GeneXpert Equipment In Testing

The Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) has reiterated its calls to government for the establishment of more COVID-19 testing centres with more enhanced equipment.

According to the Association, the country stands at high risk of putting health workers involved in testing for the disease in danger looking at the limited number of testing centres the country has amidst the constant spike in the number of infections.

“The leadership of GAMLS is very much concerned about the continuous increase and spread of the SARS COV-2 infection in Ghana as the situation poses a risk to Ghanaians including medical laboratory professionals who provide COVID-19 testing, routine and additional complementary testing to manage COVID-19 patients in our hospitals. They are directly and frequently exposed to the virus in high concentration,” GAMLS said in a statement.

The Association has over time, urged the government to expand the COVID-19 testing centres with GeneXpert equipment which can test a huge number of samples in the shortest possible time, as this is “the surest way to identify COVID-19 cases and readily isolate them to prevent further transmission of infections to others”.

But even though the President promised to “recalibrate 100 Regional and District Tuberculosis Gene Expert Laboratories across the country to help ensure that we have a minimum situation of one testing centre per region” in his national address on April 19, the association said nothing has been done yet.

Expressing disappointment in “the lack of commitment from the authorities to heed to professional advice”, the Association called on “authorities to as a matter of urgency, take steps to get the COVID-19 cartridges and to use the GeneXpert equipment as well as enough reagents for the established COVID-19 testing centres to operate”.

It is also asking the government to “take immediate steps to engage the services of the qualified but unemployed professionals to augment medical laboratory services in our health facilities.” Click here to read full statement.

GAMLS had earlier suggested that there need to be at least one more testing centre in Accra and one in Tamale or Bolgatanga to augment the testing capabilities for the virus at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research.

President of the Association, Dr. Ignatius Awinibuno said “we are afraid. Once the numbers keep going up, we will be faced with this particular problem [of not having enough testing points].”

But since then, the government has activated additional testing centres to fast track testing of samples picked from persons suspected to have the disease.

These centres include the National Reference Lab – Korle Bu, VSD (Accra, Kpong Tamale) and the Council For Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).