Increase in Covid test fee looming as the unaudited S. Sudan Covid-19 Taskforce demands 20% revenues from private labs
Hike in COVID-19 testing fees are on the horizon as the Covid-19 Taskforce demands 20% revenue from private Covid-19 testing facilities.
As evidenced by a letter obtained by NCMP, the Covid-19 task force communicated to the Ministry of Health that all accredited Covid-19 testing facilities in Juba should return 20% of their collections. This development comes as a shock, as it is obvious that the effect will be felt not by laboratories, but by ordinary South Sudanese who require testing.
By late June, the South Sudan Doctors’ Union had demanded that the National Taskforce on Coronavirus explain to citizens how the Covid-19 funds were spent. A detailed analysis of all funds collected by the National Taskforce was to be provided, but the National Taskforce has yet to do so.
The doctors’ union then called for an audit of these funds to ensure that the public is aware of how the money was spent. The public has a right to know whether the money was spent properly or not, the doctors asserted at the time. However, no audit was conducted, and no report was published.
South Sudanese are highly skeptical about the call by national Taskforce to private laboratories to remit 20 percent of their revenues to the national Taskforce, knowing well that the private laboratories will as well transfer the charge to the public.
Though Abdelbagi, who is also the chair of the Services Cluster, stated in the message that the funds should be deposited in the Central Bank account of the National Taskforce on Covid-19 Pandemic “for the sake of transparency and accountability.”
As a result of this development, according to an Eye Radio report, the manager of one of the private laboratories questioned the directive, claiming that if implemented, the directive would have the greatest impact on their business and citizens.
They asserted that the laboratories received the message three days ago from the Vice President’s office, who is also the chairman of the task force. On Saturday, Michael Milli, the manager of Med Blue Laboratory, explained in the same report that if the lab adheres to the 20% rule, it will be forced to raise its prices as a result of our business suffering.
The majority of Covid-19 labs charge nationals between $20 and $50 US dollars, or a comparable amount for each test. For foreigners, the charges are slightly higher. The letter, was addressed to recently-fired Undersecretary Dr. Mayen Acheik Machut, urged all Covid-19 testing facilities to adhere to the instruction.