- Says govt. should utilize full capacity of country’s health sector
- Urges review of NMRA and other government guidelines to ensure no barriers to easy and low cost procurement
While welcoming the government’s move to increase the number of tests carried out to detect COVID-19 with the help of the private sector, the Colombo-based think tank called for the removal of the price controls on testing.
“As Sri Lanka moves away from curfew to a more relaxed lockdown, increased testing is vital. This is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has consistently called for increases in testing.
While the increase to 1000 tests per day is a welcome increase, Sri Lanka needs to expand testing beyond this. With the rise of asymptomatic cases, testing is essential to effectively tackle COVID-19. The government should work to utilize the full capacity of the country’s health sector; both State and private,” an Advocata statement said.
“The government should review NMRA and other government guidelines to ensure that there are no barriers to easy and low cost procurement.
The removal of the price control on testing is a key part of this - as the price control does not account for the costs of medical personnel, personal protective equipment and other overheads such as safe disposal of waste.
The State sector will be able continue conducting free tests, and the expansion of capacity in the private sector will relieve some of the burden on the State,” it added.
According to the think tank, removing these barriers will increase the availability of test kits and the government will be able to open up for voluntary testing.
“In this scenario, where employers and employees can even enter cost-sharing agreements for testing, and individuals can independently get tested, you widen the net of testing and ease the burden on the State sector.
Voluntary testing would also help allow for a safer gradual opening of the economy,” the statemnet added.