It fails to consider the very poor who could be affected, for whom coughing up even Tk200 is out of the question
When it comes to the issue of testing, there cannot be any compromise.
There is universal agreement on the fact that testing is essential in the fight against coronavirus as it provides us with a clearer picture of the situation and spread of the virus in the country, and allows individuals and the government to act accordingly.
But the government’s most recent plan to start charging for tests flies in the face of that understanding, and puts the nation and the lives of its people at risk.
When we have already been told that our testing rate is not high enough, charging for tests will only serve to bring that rate down, and put the nation and its people even more at risk.
Such a decision would betray a lack of understanding regarding the inclusivity of the virus, ie, the fact that it affects every single one of us, regardless of how much money we carry in our wallets or our bank accounts.
While we understand that these tests are expensive and that the authorities have priced these tests -- Tk200 if a patient comes in, Tk500 if collected from home -- much lower than its cost, it fails to consider the very poor who could be affected, for whom coughing up even Tk200 is out of the question or presents them with an option between giving up two meals and getting tested.
In fact, these are the people that remain the most vulnerable to the coronavirus as their work forces them to leave their homes, and their homes are not conducive to social distancing.
If costs were an issue, the authorities would have done well to consider that while presenting the new budget, allocating more resources to the health sector in order to cope with the increasing demands the sector is and will be facing.
Charging for tests will be disastrous for the nation, especially the poor. There is still time to rethink the decision and increase our focus on the health sector.