Monrovia — As Liberia tackled rising COVID-19 instances in 2022, fast diagnostic testing of everybody dwelling inside 100 metres of newly confirmed instances helped break transmission chains and considerably boosted the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines by way of reactive vaccination.
The community-based testing technique to decentralize COVID-19 response allowed well being staff to conduct door-to-door neighborhood sensitization to deal with COVID-19 misinformation, together with myths about vaccination. The strategy helped the nation attain 81% vaccination protection of the inhabitants by the tip of 2022.
With monetary and technical assist from World Well being Group (WHO), cell well being groups administered tens of 1000’s of fast exams in Nimba, Margibi and Montserrado counties, that are house to almost half of Liberia’s complete inhabitants.
With polymerase chain response (PCR) exams principally now not obligatory for cross-border travellers, the community-based response initiative enabled surveillance and monitoring of epidemiological developments to enhance virus management measures.
The initiative, which makes use of fast exams to counter the problem of figuring out COVID-19 instances outdoors well being services, was launched in Liberia in July 2022. By the tip of final 12 months, 74 000 fast exams had been administered.
“Increasing testing in communities utilizing the antigen exams helps present a greater method for the nation to reply to the pandemic,” says Chea Sanford Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Important Statistics in Liberia’s Ministry of Well being, including that there are plans to broaden their use past the three counties.
In observe, the cell groups goal everybody dwelling inside a 100-metre radius of latest confirmed COVID-19 instances, administering fast exams to establish different potential instances. The expertise is straightforward, making it appropriate to be used in all settings.
Anybody who exams optimistic and requires remedy is linked to their nearest well being facility. In instances the place sufferers are both experiencing gentle signs or asymptomatic, they’re managed beneath home- primarily based isolation and care, receiving an infection prevention and management supplies, together with info on COVID-19 danger elements and prevention measures reminiscent of vaccination and handwashing.
“With testing in communities, we’re reaching each the asymptomatic and symptomatic instances. That method we’re endeavor well timed isolation of confirmed instances resulting in a break within the chain of transmission,” explains Dr Monday Julius, the WHO group lead for well being emergencies in Liberia.
The optimistic influence on vaccination uptake noticed Liberia be a part of Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles as the one 4 African international locations to attain the 70% world vaccination protection goal by December 2022.
Victoria Dekpah, a scholar at Nimba College in Liberia, was amongst these satisfied to get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 when well being staff visited her neighborhood.
“I didn’t assume it was vital to check. Many individuals had been afraid of figuring out their standing and what would occur to them. However after listening to the well being employee, I volunteered to take the take a look at and it turned out optimistic. I remoted myself at house and the well being employee visited me repeatedly till I examined detrimental once more. I additionally obtained vaccinated thereafter,” she says.
Isaac Cole, County Surveillance Officer in Nimba, blames rampant misinformation surrounding COVID-19 for the reluctance amongst Liberians to simply accept testing and vaccination. However working with native leaders who’re trusted by their communities, he says, is altering attitudes.
“The folks now know that after they’re examined and located to be optimistic, they are going to be taken care of both on the well being facility or by way of the home-based care strategy. Once we go to communities, well being staff additionally lead by instance by being vaccinated first, as one of many methods of dispelling myths about vaccination and its impact on the physique,” he provides.
WHO is supporting 18 different African international locations to implement community-based COVID-19 response, with greater than 400 000 fast exams carried out to this point. Throughout these international locations, fast testing at the moment accounts for no less than 60% of all COVID-19 testing.