‘Unable to deliver’: Kemri can only test 4,000 virus samples daily

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) is unable to test half its capacity in the ongoing war against Covid-19.

In a report to the Senate’s Committee on Health, Kemri said it has a testing capacity of up to 10,000 tests per day using both manual and automated systems but can only manage to test 4, 700.

“Covid-19 testing has been constrained by erratic supply of laboratory consumables and Personal Protective Equipment,” the report read.

Kemri is the medical research arm of the Government and advices the ministry of Health on various aspects of healthcare and delivery. It is also responsible for national diseases surveillance and rapid response for major outbreaks.

Kemri said it is able to conduct 1, 500 tests daily in its laboratory in Nairobi, 1,500 in Kisumu, 500 in Busia-Alupe, 600 in Kericho, 500 in Kilifi and 100 in Madera.

Kemri decried a shortage of technical and scientific staff and called for hiring of more employees.

It called for a sustained supply of laboratory consumables including reagents and PPEs and procurement of additional testing machines.

The Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians &Technologists Board (KMLTTB) said a total of 41 facilities have been approved as Covid -19 testing sites across the country.

“Of the 41 facilities across the counties have been approved to conduct Covid-19 testing, 15 are private and 26 are public facilities including research institutions,” it said in its report to the committee.

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KMLTTB added that more labs are being audited for suitability molecular testing of Covid – 19.

On the arrangements being put in place to address the backlog in Covid-19 testing, KMLTTB said it is assessing and upgrading of more facilities and building capacity of personnel through trainings.

“The target is to have all 47 counties to be able to carry out screening tests for Covid-19 to reduce the referrals,” said KMLTTB.

It however said the board lacks financial support from National Treasury to carry out its functions effectively across the country.

It noted that there are over 6,000 medical laboratories (both public and private) recognised by KMLTTB.

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