Testing for COVID-19 is key to understanding the burden and trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the emergence of new variants of concern (VOC). Improving and increasing testing capacity is a key strategic priority for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
In line with this, AFENET in collaboration with NCDC is implementing the “COVID-19_ Increasing Testing Project” with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
The overall goal of the project is to improve and expand COVID-19 testing capacity in Nigeria through scaling up targeted point of care rapid diagnostic testing coupled with surge support for local outbreak response as well as optimizing genomic sequencing for more effective prevention and containment of the pandemic.
This project directly supports eight priority states to build surge capacity for rapid antigen testing, and help Nigeria prepare for future waves of the COVID- 19 outbreaks. The target states include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Kebbi, Kwara, Ondo, and Sokoto States. Project teams were recruited across the selected states (35 persons in each state), constituting seven teams per state: seven supervisors, 14 testers, and 14 data collectors. The project aims to scale-up testing across the eight pilot states with aim of achieving a target of 50000-70000 test per state (400,000-560,000 tests across the eight states) within the first 50 days of intensive testing.
As part of the pre-implementation activity, AFENET with NCDC personnel carried out advocacy visits and conducted a baseline assessment of the key COVID-19 surveillance and testing performance indicators across the eight states.
Also, training of the testing teams was conducted across the eight states where a total of 280 Health Care Workers were trained using the Standardized African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) training modules. Following the training, the states commenced intensive testing to ramp up testing using state-specific strategies including health facility-based testing, mobile testing, testing in workplaces, religious centers, schools, and community testing.
To ensure the provision of quality COVID-19 Ag rapid diagnostic testing across the states, teams of national supervisors including laboratorians from Medical Laboratory Society of Nigeria and NCDC were deployed to conduct intensive monitoring and supervision for an initial two-week period, to ensure standards are met.