Project Stellar to help countries expand diagnostic testing for Covid-19
In Sub-Saharan Africa, COVID-19 testing rates are still low in most
Countries. One of the reasons for this is inadequate investment in laboratory capacity. There is a similar trend in testing rates for HIV, TB, and malaria.
In addition, despite the availability of rapid antigen tests, many countries have not effectively decentralized testing to a community level.
Since February 2022, C19RM 2021, the response arm of the Global Fund, has been investing US$800 million across 100 countries to procure COVID-19 diagnostics and commodities.
Project Stellar was created in February 2022 within the Global Fund to support countries in reaching Covid-19 testing goals and strengthen laboratory systems over the longer term.
It aims to offer assistance with planning, mobilizing resources, and creating a targeted advocacy program to encourage testing. Countries will also receive help in developing a diagnostics strategy and algorithm.
Other goals for the project that will run up to December 2023 are to scale up testing, including training and community outreach, and the management of data and surveillance systems.
The project will also aim to improve regulatory approvals of rapid antigen tests and coverage for COVID-19 testing.
Another goal is to advocate for wastewater-based surveillance and epidemiological monitoring at a country level. Wastewater surveillance often provides an early warning system of cases rising.
Project Stellar will also help countries to strengthen data management and surveillance systems.