• Sunday, Jul 05, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:52 pm

Is Bangladesh the only South Asian country charging for Covid-19 tests?

  • Published at 10:25 pm June 29th, 2020
Coronavirus Test
File photo: People wait in queue for hours - with no regard for social distancing - to get tested for Covid-19 at the Central Police Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The photo was taken recently Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Healthcare in Bhutan has been free since the 1970s. All Covid-19 tests and treatment are also done free of cost

Since the official announcement by the Health Ministry on Sunday saying people would have to pay Tk200 to Tk500 for Covid-19 tests, it seems that no other South Asian country has adopted this policy, even though the numbers could not be found for the Maldives and Sri Lanka. 

The official notification said patients would have to pay Tk200 for testing if they provided their samples at collection booths. Testing samples of patients at hospitals will cost the same. The fee will be Tk500 if samples are collected from homes.

Country

Cost in govt hospital

Cost in pvt hospital

India

Free

$40

Pakistan

Free

$56

Afghanistan

Free

$100

Nepal

Free

Free

Bhutan

Free

Free

Bangladesh 

$2.36-$5.89

$47.15

The move comes in order to “avoid unnecessary tests and ensure better management,” the ministry said, claiming that people who did not show any symptoms provided their samples for testing as it was free of cost.

This decision will be effective immediately and the revenue from testing samples has to be deposited in the government treasury, the circular read.

India

Testing in state-sponsored hospitals is completely free but some private labs were charging Indian Rupees 4500 for tests earlier. 

Later, the union government instructed the state governments to cap the rate in private facilities, following which different states set between Indian Rupees 2000 and 3000. ($25.5 to $40) for the tests 

On April 13, the Indian Supreme Court amended its order: free tests in private labs only for people covered by the government’s flagship healthcare programme Ayushman Bharat, and any other category of economically weaker sections of society as notified by the government, where it ruled on April 8 that tests be done free at private clinics as well.

Pakistan 

Government facilities around the country are testing Covid-19 samples free of cost in Pakistan. 

However, some private labs are also independently testing individuals for the virus against a fee of up to Pakistan Rupees 9000 (around $56).

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the government is bearing the fees of tests in public facilities while people have to pay as much as $100 for conducting tests at private centres.  

The government involved the private sector in its Covid-19 response efforts without capping any charge on June 13 as it announced that it lacked the capacity to test and treat coronavirus patients. 

Nepal

Not only is the state bearing the cost of testing in government facilities, but it also announced that it would pay Nepal Rupees 5,500 for the test in private hospitals on the day Bangladesh imposed fee testing. 

Khem Bahadur Karki, adviser to Minister of Health and Population Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, told a local media outlet that the government would provide swab samples to private laboratories and pay Rs 5,500 per test. 

Bhutan

Healthcare in Bhutan has been free since the 1970s. All Covid-19 tests and treatment are also done free of cost. With more than 24,507 tests, Bhutan has among the highest test rates per million, 31,766, in the region.

At least 76 people contracted the novel coronavirus in Bhutan, but no one has died from the virus and nor has any community transmission been detected.

Maldives 

There is no information available on the cost of Covid-19 tests in the country.

The People’s Majlis (parliament) has approved bringing in amendments to the Fiscal Responsibility Act to enable the government to borrow Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) 4.4 billion from the Central Bank to manage cash-flow for the estimated cost for Covid-19 response of MVR 1.4 billion, according to World Health Organization Emergency Readiness on Maldives, published last month.

Sri Lanka

There is also no available information on the cost of Covid-19 tests in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan will allow tourists into the country from August 1, with a $100 visa fee and up to four Covid-19 tests as the country has successfully curtailed the coronavirus pandemic.

The country also lifted a curfew fully on June 28.

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