WASHINGTON, DC – The Diaspora Focus Group on the Coronavirus outbreak has reacted sharply to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia’s (NPHIL) Press Statement against Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, describing the NPHIL press statement as unprofessional and misleading about the source of information on Liberia reportedly obtaining Coronavirus testing kits from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A recent press statement of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and its Acting Director Dr. Mosoka Fallah, attributed to Dr. Nyan what it described as an “assertion” about Liberia receiving COVID-19 testing kits from the US CDC. The NPHIL then stated that it received kits from the WHO, instead.
But according to secretarial minutes and recordings of the Diaspora COVID-19 Focus Group teleconference meeting of February 10, 2020, a Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH) official, Dr. Kateh, in response to questions stated that the country would “probably be getting the coronavirus test maybe from the US Center for Disease Control.” The expert Group explained that “the information came from the MOH official, but not Dr. Nyan.”
The Diaspora Focus Group on Coronavirus Outbreak is an adhoc consortium of African medical and public health scientific experts which is monitoring the trend of the outbreak and provides expert advice to strengthen public health response in African countries. Among other preventive measures, the medical Focus Group was evaluating the sources and quality of coronarvirus testing kits probably in use in African countries when the faulty US CDC COVID-19 test came to its attention.
In a recent Skype interview carried by FrontPageAfrica, ModernGhana and other news media, Dr. Nyan, an NIH-trained infectious disease specialist, made reference to the statement from the Liberian Ministry of Health when he (Dr. Nyan) alerted African countries about the faulty US CDC COVID-19 testing kits that were producing “inconclusive results” in US state laboratories.
In a February 28, 2020 letter from Dr. Nyan to both Dr. Mosoka Fallah of the NPHIL and Dr. Francis Kateh of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Nyan said “Following my January 21, 2020 communication to the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, I subsequently held discussions with Dr. Francis Kateh on February 10, 2020, regarding the lack of in-country diagnostic capability in Liberia for COVID-19. In response, it was revealed that efforts were underway to obtain testing kits from the United States through the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
“Neither the Ministry of Health nor the NPHIL provided any timely corrections if Liberia was now getting coronavirus testing kits from the WHO as stated by Dr. Fallah, but not from the US CDC as previously provided by MOH official,” the medical expert Group noted, adding that “this is a problem of discoordination of information between the MOH and NPHIL in Liberia.”
According to Physcian’s Weekly, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said some of its Coronavirus test kits were sent to at least 30 countries around the world. In the last several weeks the US CDC has come under Congressional fire for its distribution of faulty Coronavirus testing kits which have produced “inconclusive results” in several state labs and led to delay in testing.
Responding to questions about what he makes of the situation in Liberia, Dr. Nyan, an award-winning scientist and inventor, commented that “if most African governments were innovative and producing their own pathogen testing kits, we would not be talking about coronavirus testing kits from US CDC or WHO or from other countries; Africa has to move away from dependency to self-sufficiency.”
Dr. Nyan added that “there should be a better and accurate transmission of information between and from MOH and NPHIL, and other government entities in Liberia; our interactions should be professional and ethical as we focus on the response efforts to prevent the COVID-19 Pandemic from spreading to other African countries and unaffected countries in the world.”
During the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, Dr. Nyan, as head of the Diaspora Ebola Task Force, testified before the US Congress and strongly advocated for the creation of the African Center for Disease Control and Public Health Institutes in Liberia and other regions of African. He is a laureate of the 2017 African Innovation Award Special Prize for Social Impact and holds a US Patent for his invention of the rapid multiplex pathogen diagnostic test for infectious diseases.
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