KAMPALA — The Ministry of Health has reduced testing fees for Covid-19 from $65 (Shs240,000) to $50 (Shs185,000).
According to the October 23 letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, the costs have been reduced following the resumption of international flights from the countries of manufacture, which has led to a reduction in costs of transport for the test kits and reagents.
“We have reduced the cost of testing for Covid-19 from $65 (240,000) to $50 (185,000) for truck drivers, travelers seeking for Coronavirus certificates and Ugandans interested in knowing their status,” the letter reads in part.
Dr Atwine, however, said the Ministry of Health will continue to offer free tests to Ugandans who present signs of the Coronavirus and those who are contacts to positive cases.
Dr Peter Mathuki, the Chief Executive Officer of the East African Business Council (EABC) last week told stakeholders at a meeting in Busia and Malaba that the fees charged on the Ugandan side had forced several drivers to rush for free tests on the Kenyan side and had partly been the cause of the stockouts of the kits and reagents .
Mr Mathuki said it was better Uganda waived off the charges because it was hindering free and quick movement of goods which was to affect the cash inflows into the region.
Mr Osuman Ochimbo, a trader at the Busia border, said the better government of Uganda totally scrapped the charges because it was limiting many Ugandans from accessing testing and treatment for Covid-19.
“We suspect many Ugandans are getting infected and dying of Covid-19 without knowing because they can’t afford these high charges. It would be better if the costs were totally scrapped so that every Ugandan tests,” Mr Ochimbo said.
Mr Patrick Lumonya, a resident of Busia Town, said the outbreak of Covid-19 had battered people’s incomes and businesses that it was better the tests were done free of charge.
Uganda was initially offering free tests to all truck drivers; however, this was leading to congestion at various points of entry and was reportedly straining the country’s finances, making it nearly unsustainable.