Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | ePaper

Testing fees to be boomerang to combat coronavirus

Stakeholders demand withdrawal

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Reza Mahmud :
When the pandemic of Covid-19 has taken a serious turn, imposing of testing fee may worsen the situation gravely as lower income group people might avoid testing and spread the virus among others, experts said.
Stake holders including public health experts and people of lower income group are expressing frustrations over the issue and demanding immediate withdrawal of the decision.  
"Poor and lower income group of people might avoid corona testing as the government imposed fee on it which may trigger sharp spreading of the virus in the country," Professor Dr. M. Muzaherul Huq, former Advisor of World Health Organisation (WHO) told The New Nation.
He said, "Common people of Bangladesh are mainly unconscious. Many of them with corona symptoms have avoided corona test even while it was free. In these circumstances, most of them might ignore testing corona infection exchanging money."
As a result, the expert said, those symptoms bearing people might roughly travel here and there and spread the virus among his surroundings.
Such incidents might increase day by day as the economic crises are deepening in the country, he said.  "You see, sale in my tiny shop is shrunken. There are few customers who are buying products like biscuits, chocolates and such others from me. In this situation I may not go to test if I catch cold or fever rather than I may take some napa tablets to fight against the fever," said Kalam Hossain, a shopkeeper in Jurain area.
He said, "Naturally we suffer fever frequently in this rainy season. Hot weather also caused fever all-time before the outbreak of coronavirus. So, why should we test coronavirus paying Tk 200 or 500?"  
Laltu Mian, other vendor selling vegetables on rickshaw-van also expressed similarly.
He said selling is very marginal nowadays in this condition. So, there is no profit to go for test in exchange of fees.  
Both Laltu and Kalam said that the government should withdraw the fee to help the poorer people who have no ability to feed their families in this corona days.
Experts said the financial condition of lower income group people have worsened.
Besides, the infections are increasing day by day across the country.
It must have to restrain conducting massive tests and sending infected people to isolations and contracting ones to quarantines.
In these circumstances, the government should withdraw the corona test fee for the sake of greater people.
"The government is giving intensives to different sectors for the ultimate good of the nation. Like those, the state should pour intensives on testing the virus infection to contain that on emergency based," Dr. Md. Salahuddin Mollah, Consultant, Corona Team, Central Police Hospital, Rajarbagh, Dhaka.
He said, the government should withdraw the corona testing fee immediately.
A notice from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry on June 15 said the government has fixed Tk 200 fee as RT-PCR test of Covid-19 infection. Besides, it also said that Tk 500 will be charged in case of collecting samples from patients' homes.  
On the other hand, Health Ministry said they decided to collect fees considering public interests.
 "People rushed to test samples without any valid reason as it was free. Now, no one comes without symptoms," Abdul Mannan, Secretary of Health Ministry said.
But experts said, testing was not fruitless. Because, many infected persons have no symptoms, they have been detected so far. But after charging fees those people may not come to test, which may help spreading the virus seriously, they said. 

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