Gov’t seeking to make profit from COVID-19 tests at KIA – Anabah

A nonprofit social policy think tank, African Centre for Health Policy Research and Analysis (ACH- PRA) has said the charges for the PCR tests for passengers arriving at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport (KIA) are exorbitant.

The Executive Director for ACH-PRA, Dr Thomas Anabah, told Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on Class 91.3FM’s 505 on Monday, 31 August 2020 that though private companies have been mandated to undertake the tests at the airport, other private health facilities charge less compared to the charges required to be paid at the airports.

“We are told the people are supposed to pay themselves and private companies have been engaged to do that test.

“We have these private clinics, pharmacies or laboratories who are doing it for GHS150. Why should we do it at the airport at GHS250?,” he asked.

“COVID-19 is not meant to make profit, especially coming from the government. They could have advertised it for many people to apply,” he noted.

The Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is expected to receive its first set of arrivals into the country as it begins operations today, Tuesday, 1 September 2020.

The airport was closed to human traffic for some six months to prevent the importation of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his 16th address to the nation, announced the reopening of the airport for international travels.

The President said: “I’m glad to announce that the Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday, 1 September 2020.”

The airport has been disinfected to welcome its first set of visitors today.

Meanwhile, each passenger arriving in the country is expected to pay $150 for a 30-minute PCR test as part of measures to prevent the importation of the virus.

The government of Ghana has said the $150-per-passenger fee is reasonable.

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Bernard Oko-Boye, explained to journalists at a press conference on Monday, 31 August 2020 that: “As a ministry and a government who are stakeholders in the management of COVID-19, we were very much interested in the cost of the test”.

“We wanted to make sure that the cost of the test will not put an unnecessary burden on the passenger.

“So, we quickly looked at what is being charged across the globe”.

Comparing what happens in Ghana to what pertains in other countries, Dr Oko-Boye said: “When you go to a place like Zimbabwe, you will pay about $210 for the test”.

“In China, you will pay about $150 for the test.

“In Togo and Benin you will pay about 150 euros and in Nigeria, it is 130 dollars but you will have to go to a hotel and lodge till the results are ready.

“With the turnaround time and accuracy of the test assured, we had to decide whether the $150 was enough to cover all the expenses. We finally agreed to peg it at that for now.”

Meanwhile, the Ghana Airport Company has indicated that it expects a total of 1,200 passengers at peak times but has given the assurance that it can conduct 480 tests in 15 minutes and, thus, capable of handling the traffic.

The Managing Director of GACL, Mr Yaw Kwakwa, told journalists that: “Within 15 minutes, we can test about 480 people, so, taking into consideration all the odds of the maximum number of passengers we can have at a time and other factors, we have more than enough capacity.”

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