Health minister, Dr Ruth Aceng, has defended the high cost charged for COVID-19 test on travelers using Entebbe International Airport saying they are minimal compared to other countries.
The minister was responding to a concern raised by the Soi County MP Hon Abdi Fadhil Chemaswet when he moved parliament to inquire into the high cost of testing for Covid-19 at Entebbe International Airport, adding that the process is also not well structured and burdensome as it is conducted outside the Airport.
Hon Chemaswet said every person returning to the country is required to pay 65 US Dollars or 250,000 shillings for a COVID-19 PCR test, and the legislator wondered why the Government of Uganda ceded this undertaking to private companies, yet in other countries it is the government that takes charge of them.
In response, minister Acheng informed parliament that the mandatory tests are one of the measures to reduce the risk of importing new COVID-19 variants in the country and that the costs charged are relatively cheap compared to other
Travelers departing at Entebbe are required to present an authentic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) certificate for COVID-19 test from an accredited laboratory in the country issued within 72 hours.
Dr Aceng also said that the Covid-19 tests are not conducted at the Airport to avoid congestion owing to limited space available and there are a lot of other activities being undertaken there.
Legislators said travelers are charged between Shs 300,000 to Shs 350,000 which is relatively high as private companies are after making profits but not saving people’s lives.
Last month, legislators on the Parliamentary Covid-19 task force said there is need to investigate three privately owned laboratories that are carrying out screening and testing services on travelers at Entebbe international Airport due to irregularities in their operations after cases of false test results emerged.
The legislators also wanted to know how the private companies were contracted, pay taxes, checking of quality assurance of the tests carried out and how they account for money they collect from the travelers among other irregularities.