The rollout in Africa of new World Health Organization (WHO)-approved SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test (Ag-RDTs) has significantly increased screening capacity in some African countries, like Zimbabwe and Rwanda, marking a real turning point in the fight against COVID-19 in the Africa region. Although the DRC is considered a pioneer in scaling up the use of Ag-RDTs through health facility and community-based COVID-19 active case finding, testing capacity remains very low, with a current average of 1.5 tests carried out per 10,000 population per week, against a standard of at least 10 tests per 10,000 per week.
Given this low screening capacity, it is clear that there is under-reporting of COVID-19 cases. According to WHO AFRO estimates, only 1 in 7 cases would be detected in DRC. In an attempt to improve the case detection rate, the Ministry of Health, with the technical and financial support from the WHO DRC country office, has implemented since January 2021 an innovative pilot project for active case finding of COVID-19 using Ag-RDT screening in the community and in health facilities. This project is currently operational in 37 active health zones in 8 of the most affected provinces.
This report presents the cumulative results obtained, lessons learned, challenges, and future prospects after 9 months of implementation (January to September 2021) of the activities of this pilot strategy of active COVID-19 case findings in the DRC community using Ag-RDTs. This report marks the official end of the GAVI (Phase I) and FIND (Phase II) funding.