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Covid test scheme aims to unjam Africa borders

[ November 30, 2021   //   ]

Development organisation Transaid has launched a project to provide rapid antigen Covid-19  testing for truck drivers at border crossings in Uganda to help reduce the spread of the disease and lessen the economic burden on transport companies.

The development organisation was invited to partner with FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, which seeks to ensure equitable access to reliable diagnosis around the world, as well as the Uganda National Health Laboratory Services.

 They will assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using rapid antigen tests to enable truck drivers to move safely across borders without the delays and costs experienced with more expensive and slower PCR tests. They will advocate a national policy change if the validation studies prove successful.

Transaid will also be using its expertise from two existing COVID-19 projects supporting truck drivers in Uganda and Zambia, to further raise awareness of symptoms and prevention and to integrate road safety messages.

Currently many borders require proof of a negative test result within the last 72 hours before allowing entry. This has led to long queues with drivers waiting several days for PCR test results, whilst a lack of access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), limited sensitisation and a high degree of interaction between drivers, communities and front-line workers at borders is increasing the risk of infection.

Ugandan transport companies have reported that the current slow pace of PCR testing at borders means a truck on international long-haul work with reports of drivers taking twice as long to complete the 1,150km journey between Kampala and Mombasa. Some drivers have also reported security concerns at border posts and increased risk of theft to their cargo.

The new project is currently expected to run until December 2022 and will initially focus on the major border crossings at Malaba and Busia between Uganda and Kenya.

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