The U.S. Department of the Interior today announced $858,924 in Technical Assistance Program emergency grant funding to the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) to procure GeneXpert testing kits and a machine for the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states so that they may now conduct on-island testing during the Covid-9 pandemic.
Funding will be used to purchase newly developed Covid-19 testing kits for American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau. Funds will also be used to purchase one GeneXpert back-up machine for the region.
“Secretary Bernhardt and I are pleased to support the purchase of testing materials and the machine in facilitating island health officials to conduct on-site testing for Covid-19 cases during this pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Douglas W. Domenech of DOI Insular and International Affairs.
“Travel restrictions imposed to protect island communities from Covid19 have delayed and restricted options for centralized lab testing services, but recent Emergency Use Authorization announcements made by President Trump and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have opened other opportunities for on-site testing. This is critical for island area health officials as they work to protect their communities,” Domenech said.
The PIHOA has confirmed that all health departments in the Pacific territories and the freely associated states currently have the testing equipment, lab infrastructure, skills and practical knowledge base to set up and run localized Covid-19 testing using the GeneXpert platform as they currently run similar tests on the same platform for other diseases, such as tuberculosis.
PIHOA is working with regional and local health authorities to assess needs and will conduct a regional bulk procurement of newly developed COVID-19 testing kits and a back-up GeneXpert machine for the island areas.