PSOJ AND MAJ PUSH FOR ANTIGEN POINT OF CARE TESTS BY MORE PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS

As Jamaica continues to be engulfed in the community spread phase of the pandemic COVID-19, The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) urge the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to grant wider access to Antigen test kits to members of the medical profession.

The PSOJ and the MAJ see the introduction and wider availability of COVID-19 Antigen testing as being essential to the control of the pandemic. Worldwide, rapid antigen testing which is done at the point- of -care, has proven useful in reducing the time to diagnosis, in symptomatic persons, suspected of having COVID-19. We are strongly advocating that the MOHW opens this area up to private practitioners to expand the testing ecosystem so businesses and individuals can benefit from a more efficient diagnosis and response process.

With the continued increase in cases of COVID-19 island wide, there has been increasing pressure on the laboratory testing capacity of the nation. Additionally, the wait times for confirmatory tests has increased and will continue to do so as the United Kingdom and Canada now require PCR testing for international travel. Increased testing timelines have the effect of delaying the diagnosis and subsequent activities such as contact tracing and quarantine/ isolation.

The PSOJ and the MAJ view the inclusion of all members of the health team, including those providing service in the private sector, as a necessary next step in the evolution of the management of the COVID19 pandemic.

A more robust and expanded testing environment will not only provide more testing options for individuals and businesses but will also aid in reducing informality in the testing ecosystem. It will also help in reducing the time for implementation of appropriate public health measures. Practitioners will of course be required to conform to the MOHW recording and reporting protocols and comply with the requisite bio safety procedures.

The organisations also call on the MOHW to provide a channel via which the private practitioners may get the necessary guidance, procedures, and access to suitable point-of-care test kits for them to ramp up their much-needed contribution to the fight against

COVID-19.

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