TIB said imposing fees on coronavirus testing is inhumane, discriminatory, mischievous and suicidal
By saying "unnecessary and repeated tests", the government is slandering people who are testing without symptoms or retesting multiple times to ensure that they did not get infected, said the Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB).
The anti-corruption watchdog thinks there is no such thing as "unnecessary testing" while a pandemic is out there infecting thousands of people per day.
"If the government finds some tests unnecessary, does it want all the Covid-19 samples to be positive," TIB questioned in a media statement on Wednesday.
In the statement categorically protesting the imposition of fees for virus testing, TIB said, "As a large number of the infected are asymptomatic both at home and abroad, experts are emphasising isolating them by conducting more and more tests. But the government has imposed fees on testing which makes its willingness to prevent the virus spread questionable."
On June 29, the government imposed fees on Covid-19 tests at public facilities to "avoid unnecessary tests and ensure better management."
Patients have to pay Tk200 for testing if they provide their samples at collection booths and Tk500 if samples are collected from their homes.
TIB says imposing fees at a time when the infection is spiking is nothing but inhumane, discriminatory, mischievous and suicidal.
TIB in a statement claimed enactment of the government decision has made it difficult for a large section of the population belonging to the low-income bracket to get tested.
The organisation also pointed a finger at the decision for a lower number of tests and detections.
TIB fears this will intensify infection risk and may not reflect the exact picture of the pandemic in the future work-plan to tackle the virus spread.
Therefore, it demanded an immediate withdrawal of testing fees, and urged the government to increase testing capacity, testing coverage and number of testing facilities.
Executive Director of TIB Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "Due to the reckless decision to impose fees on Covid-19 tests, it is not unusual to raise question about the government's intention whether it is discouraging people from testing."
Terming the move as discriminatory and inhumane for people belonging to the low-income group, he said, "The fees may seem to be little for those who have made this decision; but it is a huge burden for people who cannot even afford three meals a day."
"Such discriminatory and inhumane decisions are unacceptable," he added.
Dr Zaman said, "Unfortunately, Bangladesh is one of the countries that carries out few tests. Furthermore, the number has been downed further by slapping the fees throwing the poor out of diagnosis. It is not abnormal to question whether the step was taken aiming at controlling information flow over Covid-19 crisis management."
"It is not possible to get the real picture of the pandemic by analysing the government provided data. Any step based on the information will contradict reality. There is no alternative to expand test numbers, capacity and coverage to ensure information flow and data accuracy," he concluded.