Israel’s Magen David Adom helped the Congo set up a COVID-19 drive-through testing center, complete with software and training, May 2020. Credit: Courtesy

by Brian Blum

(Israel21c) — It’s not quite as enjoyable as ordering a burger from the car, but Israelis who need to be tested for coronavirus can head to the nearest drive-through testing facility set up by Israel’s Magen David Adom. Drivers don’t even have to get out of the car to get swabbed.

The Israeli coronavirus drive-through concept is now coming to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.

Congo’s Honorary Consul in Israel, Dan Gertler, saw how Israel was handling coronavirus testing and contacted MDA to help with his country’s fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Building the drive-through facility is the easy part. What’s trickier is the software that manages the entire process — from sampling to sending the swab off to the lab and responding to patients.

In addition to creating a version of Israel’s software specifically for the Congo, MDA prepared a training program with videos and written materials for the Congolese medical professionals who began operating the facility at the end of May.

“During the long period in which we operated the many drive-through sampling facilities, the technology we used proved itself, along with the effective and safe practices” that prevented infection among MDA’s teams, said MDA chief information officer Ido Rosenblat. “From the moment they contacted us, we were ready to help and to share our knowledge.”

MDA director general Eli Bin added that “the medical capabilities and technologies of Magen David Adom, along the methods we are developing, are among the most advanced in the world. We are now happy to share this knowledge with other medical entities around the world, for the sake of saving human lives.”

The MDA project is the latest example of Israel’s longstanding tradition of providing aid to the developing world. Israel established MASHAV in 1958, just a decade after the state was established. MASHAV has helped build hospitals, airports, universities and roads in almost every African country. Israel provided food aid to the Congo in 2008.