The anti-graft watchdog also urges the government to increase the number of tests among people for free
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has demanded immediate withdrawal of the imposed fees for Covid-19 testing as well as increase the capacity, scope, and number of tests to effectively control the pandemic.
In a statement sent to the media on Wednesday, the organization claimed that the Covid-19 test went beyond the means of the indigent population due to the government’s decision to impose fees.
It has termed the imposition of fees for Covid-19 tests as discriminatory, inhumane, malicious, and suicidal as the country continues to see an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said: “At a time when the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing in the country, the Ministry of Health suddenly decided to impose a fee on the Covid-19 test.”
Describing the move as discriminatory and inhumane for the country's poor population, he said: “For those who have made this decision, the fee may seem small; but for those who can't afford regular meals, this Tk200 is a huge burden.”
“It is important to consider whether this decision is to discourage the poor and low-income people from taking the test. Such a discriminatory and inhumane decision is unacceptable,” he added.
Dr Zaman said: “As a large proportion of Covid-19 cases in the country and around the world are asymptomatic, experts are urging everyone to increase the number of tests to identify the patients. TIB believes that the decision to impose the fee is suicidal and raises a question on the government's willingness to deal with the pandemic.”
The executive director of TIB stated: “Unfortunately, Bangladesh is already one of the few countries in the world with the least number of Covid-19 testing. By imposing fees, a large section of the population is going to be beyond the scope of testing.”
He said: “Questions will be raised if the fees were imposed to control the flow of information regarding the Covid-19 situation of the country. According to the data that is being published, it is not possible to know the actual situation of coronavirus infection in the country.”
“Therefore, the steps that the government will take to deal with the pandemic on the basis of the information will certainly be inconsistent with the reality. There is no alternative to increasing the capacity, scope, and number of Covid-19 tests to ensure the flow and accuracy of information.”
Earlier, on June 29, the government imposed fees on coronavirus tests at state-run hospitals and labs to “avoid unnecessary tests and ensure better management.”
The patients have to pay Tk200 for testing if they provide their samples at collection booths or Tk500 if samples are collected from their homes.