Grace Wairimu at a rehab centre in Kilifi County where she came to do her HCV self-test. 04.03.2020, Kilify County, Kenya Photo credits: FIND / Brian Otieno

Self-testing and self-care

We are working to introduce new and expand access to existing self-tests and self-care technologies so that people can be empowered to take control of their health and protect themselves and their communities.

Self-testing and self-sampling can support equitable access to testing to everyone, regardless of their location or social status.

The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote their own health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.

WHO definition of self-care

Self-testing refers to a self-care approach that enables people to take their own sample, perform a simple test, and interpret the result themselves. Self-sampling is when people collect their own sample before sending it to a health facility for testing.

Self-tests can be made available in pharmacies, as well as in non-traditional settings such as supermarkets. They can be provided by employers for use in workplaces, and also offered to people in health facilities to use while they are waiting to see a health professional for unrelated reasons. Access to self-tests can be enabled through formal healthcare programmes, or through individual choices to buy and use self-tests outside of regular healthcare services.

WHO recommends self-care interventions for every country and economic setting as critical components on the path to reaching universal health coverage (UHC), promoting health, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable. During the COVID-19 pandemic, self-testing gained significant momentum, and its successful deployment in many countries demonstrated its value in response to global health threats. The pandemic provided a unique window of opportunity, with learnings and best practices established that should now be evaluated for potential applicability in other diseases as part of comprehensive self-care packages. It is also important to identify pathways that can enable fast scale-up and rollout of self-testing services as part of future outbreak response mechanisms.

Self-testing can uniquely empower people to take control of their health, and has proved to be an important tool in the COVID-19 response.

Marta Fernández Suárez

Chief Technology Officer

WHO factsheet on self-care interventions for health

The WHO definition of self-care is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote their own health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.

FIND test directory

Search our test directory for information about approved self-tests for COVID-19.