Virus test fee impairs pandemic fight


To avoid unnecessary Covid-19 tests, the government fixed the test fee on Monday.
The Health Service Division under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry issued a circular in this regard.

Accordingly, anyone who wants to conduct a test from government hospitals or Covid-19 dedicated booths have to pay Tk 200 while it will be Tk 500 if a sample is collected from the home of a patient suspected to be infected with the virus.
Public health experts predict, this effort may increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission due to the economic downturn in this pandemic.

Since detection of coronavirus across the country, Covid-19 test is being conducted through RT-PCR test, and the government is giving the service free of cost.

Many people have availed the opportunity from the government hospitals while people who have no symptoms have also taken tests.

For this, the government took the initiative to avoid unnecessary testing.
Fixing the cost of corona tests will keep people away from government hospitals and booths. Poor people will take less chances to get tested, and this would increase the risk of infection, says Public Health professor at the North South University (NSU), Ahmed Hossain.

Many people cannot afford this price, and the question of mismanagement remains ‘high’, he added.
Public health experts and health economists have expressed similar views on the decision to set a price for the Corona test. They requested that the decision be reversed.

The World Health Organization has been emphasizing corona testing since the beginning of the epidemic, repeatedly saying to increase testing.

The National Technical Advisory Committee on Corona in the Ministry of Health and the Public Health Advisory Committee of the Department of Health have also called for an increase in corona testing.

The order will come into effect after approval from the authorities concerned. The cost of Covid-19 test at private hospitals is high. But people have to go to private hospitals for testing due to huge pressure at government hospitals.

Syed Abdul Hamid, a professor at the Institute of Health Economics at University of Dhaka (DU) said, ‘In case of an epidemic, Tk 200 or Tk 500 is a lot for the lower middle class or poor people.”

“Even if they have corona symptoms, many people will not spend this money to get tested. Without testing, without treatment, they will increase the risk of infection.”

He also said, it is the responsibility of the government to prevent the disease. Preventive services are in most cases free. Corona is part of the test prevention activity. In this case, there is no shortage of government funds. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have provided Tk 1,700 crore to spend on corona. Besides, the government has allocated Tk 10,000 crore in this sector. Increasing the cost of the test will reduce the cost of corona treatment.

Corona is identified through RT-PCR examination. The government has been conducting this test for free from the beginning. At present, the test samples are collected free of cost at 5 government hospitals and 30 booths in Dhaka city. Besides, the health workers of the health department are also collecting samples at their homes in Dhaka city. At the district level, health workers go from house to house and collect samples.

On Tuesday, Bangladesh registered the highest single day death toll from coronavirus infection, 64 in a span of 24 hours. With these, the national death tally from the virus rose to 1,867.