Call to action: global crisis on testing

Participants at the Women Political Leaders’ Summit, Test to Exit COVID-19 – Engaging women political leaders as champions for testing, which took place on 22 June 2020, are issuing the following statement, urging stakeholders and the public to give their support to this Call to Action to the Presidencies of the G20, G7, African Union, and European Union, as well as leaders of the United Nations and its agencies, including the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Agency, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how ignoring diagnostics leads to negative health, social and economic impacts. Pandemic preparedness must put testing at the centre, with the aim of ensuring high-performing, affordable, rapid diagnostic testing is available to everyone who needs it.

Testing is vital to save lives today, to develop and deploy vaccines and effective treatments without delay, to protect healthcare workers and strengthen health systems against future threats, to inform the safe reopening of economies, and to protect the global health gains of recent decades.

The window of opportunity to invest in and ramp up testing is closing. Missing this opportunity may lead to delays in vaccine and treatment roll out, excessive spending on healthcare, and greater economic losses due to unnecessary lockdowns.

  • WE RECOGNIZE the pivotal role that diagnostics and testing play at every stage of a pandemic – from outbreak detection and containment to development and deployment of treatments and vaccines.
  • WE RECOGNIZE that access to accurate and timely testing is essential to protect front-line health and care workers, the majority of whom are women, as well as for overall patient safety.
  • WE APPLAUD those countries that moved quickly to implement aggressive, sustained testing strategies, saving countless lives and mitigating some of the economic impact of the pandemic.
  • WE RECOGNIZE that in a pandemic, no one is safe until we are all safe – and welcome efforts to coordinate a global response to ensure equitable access to the right tools through the access to covid-19 tools (act) accelerator.
  • WE ACKNOWLEDGE the life-saving value of today’s complex, laboratory-based tools, but realize that for testing to be accessible to everyone who needs it there is an urgent need for simple, accurate, affordable and rapid diagnostic tests that can be used anywhere.
  • WE RECOGNIZE that comprehensive deployment of such rapid diagnostic tests in low- and middle-income countries is desperately needed to save millions of lives and minimize disruption to already-underfunded services for existing infectious diseases that kill millions of people today, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis.
  • WE WELCOME the international funding pledged to support diagnostics and testing for COVID-19 but note that these funds represent just a small fraction of the needs identified by the act-accelerator diagnostics partnership to mount an effective, equitable diagnostic response.

 

We call on governments, businesses, philanthropic organizations and development banks to:

  • PROVIDE sustainable investments that will spur innovation and enable innovation in simple, accurate, affordable and rapid testing that can be used globally, but especially in low- and middle-income countries.
  • PROVIDE funding and work with industry to remove critical barriers to scale up and roll out tests, including the creation of local manufacturing facilities, fully operational supply chains and in-country capacity.
  • SUPPORT the procurement of tests in countries unable to shoulder the burden themselves.
  • SUPPORT the testing community through provision of loans and other financial instruments that can help mitigate funding shortfalls.
  • RECOGNIZE that health threats such as COVID-19 pose one of the greatest global health security risks of our time, and that long-term investment in heath system strengthening and diagnostic preparedness such as surveillance is the only way to detect a future outbreak early and prevent a new pandemic.

 

This call to action is endorsed by:

(in alphabetical order)

 

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