Three new machines for the testing of COVID-19 arrived and were installed in Fiji Centre for Disease Control (Fiji CDC) today, marking another significant boost in laboratory capacity for the country.

These machines will enable 16 instead of 4 tests to be run at once per machine and allowing for up to 1000 additional tests per day. While these machines will immediately be used to test for COVID-19, in the longer term they can also support testing for a range of other diseases, such as influenza, tuberculosis and HIV testing.

The machines were procured by the World Health Organization (WHO) with funding support from the European Union (EU).Fiji’s Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, thanked the EU Ambassador, Sujiro Seam, and the Acting WHO Representative to the South Pacific, Dr Akeem Ali, for their continued support for the country’s efforts to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

“The 16 module GeneXpert machine has come at a right time boosting our testing capacity as we face the current wave of new cases. The machines will further enhance our ability to turn around testing results quickly, and make decisions on our public health response. We thank the European Union for the tremendous support and timely assistance towards the Ministry’s COVID response effort.”

“As a longstanding partner of the Pacific, the European Union stands with Fiji against the second wave of COVID-19. Enhancing Fiji’s testing capacity is a priority and the European Union is proud to join forces with WHO and other partners in strengthening health systems in the region. The EUR $22 million mobilised to that effect helps increase the capacity of the Pacific Island Countries to face the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Ambassador Sujiro Seam.

“The EU has been with us from the very early days of the COVID-19 response, standing alongside WHO and the countries of the Pacific to rapidly scale up the capacities required to detect the spread of the disease and save lives. The EU not only contributes funding but their time and expertise through their participation in the Joint Incident Management Team. We commend the EU for their collaborative approach and their willingness to work with us to direct resources where they are most needed,” said Dr Akeem Ali.

Additional info:The EU’s partnership with WHO supports a range of COVID-19 preparedness and response measures across the Pacific. For example, to increase readiness and strengthen countries’ ability to test, detect and monitor for COVID-19 presence, WHO has procured 150 000 GeneXpert testing cartridges for the Pacific with the support of the EU, 20,000 of which were delivered to Fiji last week in light of the recent outbreak.

The procurement of additional personal protective equipment and testing cartridges is also underway. WHO is also working with the EU to support broader health system strengthening efforts so that people everywhere, across the Pacific, can access essential health services.

Source: Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

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