Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health has reduced the cost of a COVID-19 PCR test in government laboratories from ($65) 240,500 Shillings to ($50) 185,000 Shillings.
In a letter on Friday 23, October 2020 to hospitals and district authorities, Dr Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health noted that the reduction in the price was as a result of reductions in transporting laboratory testing kits and other supplies from the point of manufacture to the country due to resumption of international flights.
Among those that are supposed to pay for their tests are individuals who would like to know their status, those that need a negative COVID-19 certificate for international travel, organizations that seek to test their staff in addition to truck drivers at different ports of entry.
However, these categories of people started paying in August even as the Ministry of Health had started testing as early as March when the country’s first case was declared. But, this move caused controversy and agitation from especially truck drivers who have continuously complained about high testing fees.
Apart from the government labs, the Ministry also accredited several private laboratories that offer the test at 300,000 Shillings and 350,000 Shillings, which is way too expensive for some sections.
The Ministry of Health however still conducts free testing services to patients who present to facilities with COVID-19 symptoms, contacts of positive cases and front line health workers.
By Friday 23rd, 46% of the 11,163 people who have cumulatively been confirmed positive were contacted, 35% are alerts and 7% are health workers. All these categories of people get their tests done at a free charge by the Ministry.
The truck drivers account for 7% of the infections and 6% are returnees from abroad.