From left to right: Dr. Arvind Mathur, WHO Representative, Abdulla Ameen, Minister of Health and Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative at the handover ceremony of the GeneXpert cartridges. Photo: HPA Maldives.

In response to COVID-19, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Maldives is joining in hand with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the procurement of 25,000 GeneXpert cartridges to assist the COVID-19 testing process, which will be handed over to the Ministry of Health for distribution across the country.

The handing over is timely as the country gradually reopens the economic activities as of July. The first 5,000 GeneXpert COVID-19 tests were handed over to regional hospitals via the Ministry. The tests will simplify the COVID-19 testing process and is a vital tool for the geographically dispersed islands of the Maldives, where testing capacities are limited.

Currently, the only test that can be performed to diagnose COVID-19 outside capital Malé is GeneXpert. COVID-19 testing through GeneXpert is possible because there is one 4 module and six 2 module machines in the country. At present, the GeneXperts are being mainly used to detect tuberculosis (TB). Availability of the SARS-COVID-2 cartridges will enable testing in Shaviyani Atoll Hospital, Ungoofaaru Regional Hospital, Baa Atoll Hospital, Gaafu Alif Atoll Hospital and Dr. Abdul Samad Memorial Hospital, and increase testing capacity in Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hosotal and Gan Regional Hospital.

Aligned to the national response plan, the handover of the cartridges will advance the country’s response to COVID-19. In addition, UNDP is working with WHO in procuring Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to support and equip the Government of Maldives.

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