By Stephen Wandera
KIU, Main Campus - The government has accredited 3 private laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests in a bid to build more capacity in the fight against the pandemic.
The accredited laboratories are MBN laboratory, Lancet Lab and Medipal International Hospital Lab, which will all be authorized to conduct only PCR tests and not antibody tests.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bite and the numbers of community infections continue to rise, the government has stepped up its preparedness to have as many people as possible getting tested without taking any chances.
During the televised national COVID-19 response address to the country on July 30, the Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said that testing had been scaled up from Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), Entebbe to national Public Health Laboratories at Butabika, Tororo General Hospital, Mutukula border point, Adjumani Hospital, and Makerere University College of Health Sciences (Mulago).
“The labs will charge a fee for the services. However, the general public is informed that access to test kits is still a challenge globally, so capacity might be limited in terms of numbers of tests,” the minister said.
“On the issue of charges, we know that these labs have struggled to get testing kits and machines, and they have to ensure their overhead costs are met. We will work with them to ensure they don’t overcharge,” she added.
Uganda has so far conducted about 266,000 tests for COVID-19 since the disease broke out in the country in late March. But with the surge in the number of cases in communities, there will be need for mass testing. Some 54 districts have so far confirmed cases of COVID-19.