Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozambique’s public health laboratory network experienced frequent supply stock-outs and capacity was centralized in two locations. When COVID-19 hit, the country was able to conduct only 600 COVID-19 tests a day for a population of 30 million people. The turnaround time for results was 72 hours; however, in many instances it took up to two weeks due to logistical challenges and the incredibly heavy workload.
Through the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism funding, Mozambique’s Ministry of Health gained access to international stockpiles of COVID-19 PCR and rapid antigen tests that significantly increased testing capacity, expanded access to testing and strengthened the laboratory network’s ability to respond to increasing demand.
Laboratory staff received training to decentralize antigen testing. This reduced the need to transport samples, provided remote communities with greater access, increased capacity and improved response time.
In 2021, Mozambique expanded PCR testing capacity to all provinces and began rolling out rapid tests. During the country’s fourth wave of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant, Mozambique’s laboratory network has been able to conduct 12,000 tests a day – 20 times as many compared to the first wave.
The government also used COVID-19 Response Mechanism support to equip, renovate or rebuild four provincial public health laboratories. An additional three more laboratories will undergo similar improvements in 2022.
These investments will further increase the country’s laboratory capacity for all infectious diseases and strengthen the health system to respond to current pandemics while preparing for future health emergencies.