December 3, 2020

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GHS rolls out project to improve quality of COVID-19 tests and data management

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As Ghana’s COVID-19 cases continue to see a spike in the last few weeks, the Ghana Health Service is rolling out a project to ensure that laboratories carrying out testing for the virus produce accurate and quality results.

At an event to launch the project, Virologist at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Prof. William Ampofo, said the labs would be supervised to ensure results they produce are incontestable.

National Laboratory Quality Assurance Project

The National Laboratory Quality Assurance Programme and Data Management for COVID-19, implemented by the Ghana Health Service with support from PharmAccess, is to cut out instances of false tests by some labs.

“Because we have a network of laboratories testing thousands of samples, it is important to have a quality assurance system, to check the reliability of the results and the accuracy of the tests that are being done by the different labs using sometimes different kits and machines, but all producing a result that the person has covid or not,” Professor Ampofo said.

The project will also ensure all the laboratories accredited to conduct the tests, do so strictly by the protocols and produce desired results.

Prof. Ampofo told journalists that, “all the labs in the network will receive a fully-characterized panel with results already known to the committee and the results from these labs will be matched against the original results.”

The committee will also visit the labs, to check if the right processes are being used for the testing.

“We would also administer a questionnaire to check if the staff is well-trained and if the processes being undertaken plus the data reporting processes are what they have to be.”

Data Management System Enhancement

A set of fifteen laptops were handed over to the Ghana Health Service as part of the project to enhance data management and reporting.

Director General of the Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye, vowed to crack the whip on laboratories that fail to meet the quality control standards.

“We would not hesitate to de-list laboratories that fail these quality control protocols, because we want to ensure the highest standard of test results which would inform our responses.”

The Director General also noted, “One of the challenges at the early stages of the pandemic in Ghana was the lack of laboratories to do the testing and then our data management.”

So far, twenty three laboratories have received accreditation to carry out covid-19 tests, as fears grow that the relaxation in adherence to the safety protocols could trigger a spike in the numbers.

He said, “the hump in cases we have seen in the last few weeks, probably could be from the fact that the data was not properly managed to identify the positive cases and to respond on time.”

Dr. Aboagye believes the support from PharmAccess and the Dutch government in this area is needed to boost the service’s data management and covid response.

Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, lauded Ghana’s management of the pandemic.

He said, “sometimes the picture is painted that what is bad in Europe must be worse in Africa; but do not forget that a country like Ghana is so determined to get this right and it is good news from Ghana and Africa.”

Ghana’s COVID-19 Stats

Ghana as of November 21, 2020, had carried out more than five hundred thousand tests. Out of the number, fifty thousand, seven hundred and seventeen (50, 717) cumulative positive cases had been recorded, with forty nine thousand, two hundred and eighty one (49,281) recoveries and discharges.

Total active case count stands at one thousand, one hundred and thirteen (1,146) with 323 deaths.

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