Belize City, Belize, January 5, 2021 (PAHO) – To support the ongoing efforts in expanding SARS-COV-2 testing strategies in Belize, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) donated 49,975 SD Standard F COVID-19 Antigen FIA test kits, 45,000 SD Standard Q COVID-19 Antigen test kits along with seven (7) units of SD Standard COVID-19 Antigen Control, and two (2) units of Rapid Diagnostic Test Analyzers (RDT) to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
The importance of timely and accurate testing is crucial to the prevention, control and management of COVID-19. Thus, the use of rapid antigen tests can beneficially contribute to enhancing the overall COVID-19 testing capacity in the country. It provides a shorter time to receive a result (15-30 minutes), is cost-effective and allows for early detection of cases to enable the rapid start of contact tracing, isolation and quarantine measures contributing to the control of the pandemic.
“The rapid antigen tests, controls and the analyzers will enhance not just the laboratory capacity but the over-all health system responsiveness,” said PAHO/WHO Health Systems and Services Technical Advisor, Dr. Edwin Bolastig, who represented PAHO/WHO on behalf of PWR Dr. Noreen Jack. “Especially in the context of patient triaging and contact tracing, receiving timely results is critical. With these rapid antigen tests, early diagnosis of cases can ensure timely and effective response by the healthcare workers and the healthcare system itself.”
Apart from the timeliness and performance of the rapid antigen tests, the simplicity of use will prove a major advantage when conducting tests in rural and remote areas of the country. However, rapid antigen tests do not replace the PCR testing but complement the overall testing capacity. PAHO/WHO still recommends the PCR as the gold standard test for SARS-COV-2. The rapid antigen use is recommended for the testing of persons with symptoms of COVID-19 and contacts of confirmed cases.
PAHO/WHO Malaria and other Vector-borne Diseases Specialist, Dr. Job Joseph, joined Dr. Bolastig in handing over the items to the Minister of Health and Wellness Hon. Michel Chebat, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Deysi Mendez, Acting Director of Health Services Dr. Melissa Diaz, and Medical Officer Dr. Julio Sabido of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness extends its most earnest appreciativeness to PAHO/WHO for the generous donation of Rapid Test,” said Dr. Diaz. “Rapid testing will significantly continue to assist our country to swiftly detect, isolate and manage COVID-19 cases. These rapid tests will be distributed to all the regions as we continue in the fight against COVID-19. Once again, many thanks to PAHO/WHO for the continued collaboration and response.”
In working together with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other partners, PAHO/WHO Belize starts the year continuing to support the country in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by procuring tests, equipment and supplies, providing technical guidance to the ministry and the country of Belize.
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