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Now Ugandans to pay $65 from own pockets for coronavirus tests

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Ugandans will pay Ush240,000 ($65) for a Covid-19 test as the government manages its costs in dealing with the pandemic.

A circular from the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Geoffrey Sseremba said, “This is a cost recovery mechanism that will enable the Ministry of Health to acquire more test kits for continued access to testing services in the country.”

The public is, however, questioning the move, considering the large amount of money the country has received in the past five months to contain the virus. There is concern that the testing will exclude the poor who cannot afford to pay.

The fee is for anyone who wants to get tested, but the government has listed those who must undergo the test. These are truck drivers, individuals seeking to know their status, citizens returning from abroad, organisations seeking to test their staff, and visitors arriving into the country. Some 200,000 kits were donated by the Jack Ma Foundation. Development partners such as WHO, EU and UN have also donated kits.

More than 350,000 tests have already been conducted in the country.

In June, Emmanuel Katongole, who heads the National Covid-19 Taskforce, told The EastAfrican that the taskforce had received a total of Ush33 billion ($9 million), of which Ush16 billion ($4.3 million) was in cash.ADVERTISEMENT

More than 350,000 tests have already been conducted in the country.

Patrick Ocailap, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance told The EastAfrican that the loans were for macro-economic support.

Jim Mugunga, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said, “The loans Uganda got were for specific purposes and their documentation is always well spelt out.”

Testing truckers

According to the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA), more trucking crews had opted to test in Uganda. Uganda accounts for 83.2 per cent of transit cargo through the port of Mombasa.

“This does not come as a shock to us since no government can carry the cost of another’s inefficiency. In the past three weeks, almost all certificates of Kenyan truck drivers were obtained in Uganda. In Kenya, one may never get results after testing,” said KTA chief operations officer Mercy Ireri. “The Logistics sector has to go on with business, but be assured that the cost will be transferred to the final consumer.”

Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association national chairman Roy Mwanthi said they will comply with the Ugandan directive but will appeal to have it reviewed. He said they have proposed a system to be adopted to manage movement.

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