Advocates call for a higher level of global coordination, transparency, and accountability to ensure sustainable and equitable access to testing.
On 24 April 2020, advocates sent an open letter to the Diagnostics Supply Consortium calling for a higher level of global coordination, transparency, and accountability to ensure sustainable and equitable access to molecular diagnostic testing for COVID-19, as well as to address the decades-long global health crisis that unaffordability and lack of access to testing for TB, HIV, HCV and other diseases has presented in low- and middle-income countries.
“For communities in low- and middle-income countries with fragile health systems and already over-stretched health budgets, access to testing — including for SARS-CoV-2, TB, HIV, HCV and other diseases — will be a matter of life and death.”
The signatories requested an urgent conference call to better understand the work of the Diagnostics Supply Consortium and to raise their concerns “as a matter of urgent priority”.
“The unprecedented challenge of preserving and continuing to improve public health in low- and middle-income countries through scaling-up testing for COVID-19, TB, HIV, HCV, and other diseases requires unparalleled action, and collective will, from global health actors, funders, and country governments.”
To read the full letter, click here.
On 2 May 2020, Scott Pendergast, Director of Health Emergencies--Strategy, Programmes and Partnerships at the World Health Organization (WHO), and head of the Diagnostics Supply Consortium, responded to the open letter via email welcoming a meeting with the civil society organizations to discuss the work of the Diagnostics Supply Consortium and the advocates’ concerns raised in the letter.
In his response, Pendergast said that the Consortium is "continually seeking better ways to align the efforts of our respective organizations to improve access to diagnostics. Even as we take emergency actions based on the best information available to us, the approaches currently being created through this consortium are still in the formative stages. We have many months ahead as we continually build and improve upon our response. Throughout all stages of the pandemic response, pursuing ethical and transparent strategies are of paramount importance to all of us. As we move forward, civil society’s input and partnership are essential for our collective success."