Government refutes claims that Zambia lacks enough COVID-19 testing materials

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The Government has refuted reports that the biggest and main referral hospital in the country, University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka does not have enough coronavirus testing kits.

Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the claims are not true as the country has enough testing kits in various Health institutions.

A local media house says according to documentation it has obtained, the University Teaching Hospital did not have swabbing kits for Covid-19 on Wednesday morning to test patients.

However, when the documents were presented before him, Dr. Chilufya classified them as fabricated.

Apparently, Zambia at the beginning of its epidemic curve, had been struggling to source masks, as well as testing materials like swabs and reagents, said Charles Holmes, a board member of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and the former chief medical officer for the Obama administration’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.

He claimed that at one time, when Zambia tried to place an order for N95 masks, Dr. Holmes said, the broker tried to sell them for “five to 10 times” more than the usual cost, despite checks revealing the masks expired in 2016.

“It’s difficult for countries or governments having those conversations with manufacturers, when much wealthier countries are having those same conversations,” he said. “The private sector is likely to respond to the highest bidder for many of these supplies, that’s just business.”

According to New York Times, he said manufacturers have told Zambian officials that they cannot guarantee a delivery date for supplies because “most of them are being snapped up by the U.S. and Europe.”

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31