Zambia: Increased access to Covid testing facilities needed

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As coronavirus (COVID-19) positive cases continue to rise, the Ministry of Health should make available as many testing centers as possible to give people the opportunity to get tested and seek treatment immediately if necessary.

The unprecedented number that will surely increase during this festive season calls for strict measures to be put in place, including easy access for testing as well as vaccination.

Zanaco’s decision to offer immunization services in its branches across the country is one of the partnerships that the Ministry of Health should seek in order to provide needed health services to the people of Zambia, especially in the communities.

The decision taken by the bank is to be welcomed and should also see other companies follow suit in complimenting the government’s efforts to facilitate access to tests and vaccines in communities through engagement with the ministry’s mobile unit. of Health.

But while access to vaccines is mostly accessible, the same cannot be said for testing centers which remain difficult for the public to access.

It’s no secret that testing facilities are not as easy to access, especially on weekends, as one is forced to sweat before a testing center can be found.

Worryingly, many health facilities seem to not offer screening services frequently and mostly on weekends and patients would have to wait working days or go to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital or pay at private facilities who took advantage of the government health center. inefficiency in providing these services and collecting money.

The government should ensure that testing centers are opened in convenient locations to encourage as many people to test and know their status, especially if the program to disrupt community transmission is carried out, which will be essential to prevent the spread of HIV. the Omicron COVID-19 variant at a faster rate. .

It is through testing that people will become aware of their status and help provide the government with the numbers to help administer the drugs in addition to tracking the spread of the disease.

It would be important for the government to begin robust surveillance and contact tracing and funding to increase public access to vaccines and personal protective equipment that helps prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The time to act should be now and not wait for the deaths to escalate and the situation to spiral out of control, especially as the country slides deeper into the rainy season which promises to bring an auspicious change of weather. to the spread of the virus.

Deliberate plans could be made through mobile testing facilities if the government wants to reach as many people as possible in a bid to reduce and eventually end the spread of COVID-19.

It is true that tackling the pandemic will require concerted efforts by all stakeholders, hence the call for the private sector to join the government and ensure that Zambians have access to tests and vaccines.

We must also see the government reinforce the measures announced to help curb the transmission of COVID-19, in particular with regard to public gatherings, as these have proven to be the main transmission of the virus.

The effects of the third wave were too much for anyone to bear and so it would be up to the government to make sure they did their part in enforcing the various measures, with the ultimate choice resting with each individual to do their bit and d help fight disease. before it is too late.

Although the government is supposed to ensure continuous testing and provide vaccines, it is the responsibility of members of the public to ensure that they follow the various health guidelines that have been put in place to help reduce pressure in our hospitals.

The current situation, where infection rates have exceeded 1,500 a day, is worrying and calls for tougher measures to help save lives.

Reducing the infection rate starts with an individual and it should not be for the head of state to institute measures to protect members of the public.

The government, through the Ministry of Health, should continue to raise awareness and provide the various health services such as tests and vaccines closer to the community.

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