Increased access to COVID testing facilities needed
Published On December 27, 2021 » 1806 Views» By Times Reporter » Opinion
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AS the Coronavirus (COVID-19) positive cases continue to rise, there is need for the ministry of Health to make available as many testing centre’s as possible to give people the opportunity to get tested and immediately get treatment if need be.
The unprecedented numbers which will surely increase during this festive season calls for stringent measures to be put in place including easy access for testing as well as vaccination.
The decision by Zanaco to offer vaccine services across its branches countrywide is one of the partnerships the ministry of Health should strive for in a bid to offer the needed health services to the Zambian people especially in communities.
The move taken by the bank should be commended and also should see other corporate entities follow suit by complimenting government’s efforts to allow for ease of access to testing and vaccines in communities through engagement with the ministry of Health mobile unit.
But while access to vaccines is mostly accessible, the same cannot be said about the testing centre’s which continue to be difficult for members of the public to access.
It is not a secret that it is not as easy to access testing facilities especially on weekends as one is made to sweat before a testing centre could be found.
It is worrying that many health facilities seem not to be offering testing services frequently and mainly at weekends and patients would need to wait for working days or find their way to the Levy Mwanawasa Hospital or pay at private facilities who have taken advantage of government health centre’s inefficiency to offer these services and cash in.
Government should ensure that it opens up testing centres at convenient places to encourage as many people to test and know their status especially if the programme to disrupt community transmission is achieved which will be key towards preventing the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreading at a faster rate.
It is through testing that people will become aware of their status as well as help provide the Government with the numbers to help administer medication on top of keeping track of the spread of the disease.
It would be important for the government to start robust surveillance and contact tracing and financing to increase public access to vaccines and personal protective equipment which help prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Time to act should be now and not waiting until fatalities worsen and the situation gets out of hand especially as the country heads deep into the rainy season which promises to bring about a change of weather good for the virus to spread.
Deliberate plans could be made through mobile testing facilities if the Government is to reach out to as many people as possible in a bid to reduce and eventually end the spread of COVID-19.
It is true that the fight against the pandemic will require concerted efforts among all stakeholders hence the call on the private sector to join hands with the Government and ensure Zambians have access to testing and vaccines.
The Government should equally be seen to tighten up the measures announced to help curb the transmission of COVID-19 especially in as far as public gatherings are concerned because these have proved to be the main transmission for the virus.
The effects of the third wave were too much for anyone to bear and thus the onus would be on the government to ensure it does its part in enforcing the various measures with the ultimate choice lying with every individual to do their part and help combat the disease before it is too late.
While the Government is expected to ensure continuous testing and providing vaccines, the onus is on the members of the public to ensure that they follow the various health guidelines that have been put in place to help lessen the pressure in our hospitals.
The current state-of-affairs where infection rates have gone above 1, 500 on a daily basis are worrying and calls for measures to be tightened to help save lives.
Reduction of infection rate begins with an individual and it should not take the head of state to institute measures to protect the members of the public.
Government through the ministry of health should continue with the sensitisation and providing the various health services such as testing and vaccines nearer to the community.

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