KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has urged the government to further subsidise the cost of Covid-19 self-test kits to make it more affordable and accessible to the public.
He said this would facilitate the public into accepting it as a part of the new normal, especially as one of the important steps to progressively re-open the economy safely and sustainably.
“The recent announcement by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to cap the price of Covid-19 self-test kits has not only come a few months too late, but the capped price of RM19.90 for retail is still too high and considered unaffordable for many segments of society including the B40 and lower M40, especially if there are many members of the family who need to be screened frequently.
“Such controlled price will be enforced starting from Sept 5 and they have capped the price at RM16 for wholesale and RM19.90 for retail,” he said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Sept 2).
Dr Yii said making self-test kits affordable and accessible was an important arm for a systematic and comprehensive ‘FTTIS+V’ (Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support, and Vaccinate) national testing strategy needed in the country to deal with the pandemic.
He said this enabled testing at the point of interaction, for instance a factory floor, office, or even the entrance to any social event in the future to help reduce outbreaks or clusters in such higher risk areas.
“Such subsidised prices will also help the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they incorporate it into their general standard operating procedure (SOP) to reduce outbreaks at workplace clusters,” he said.
Dr Yii pointed out that SMEs were already struggling due to the slow economy, thus urging the government to look at alleviating some of their burden while encouraging safe practices among them to build a frequent testing culture to ensure the economy kept going.
“The government should also look into reducing red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to approving self-test kits that meet the necessary requirements.
“When there are more brands in the market, this will encourage competition which will drive down the price once ordered in bulk, especially when the demand increases as the government cultivates a culture of testing throughout the community,” he said.
Hence, the government could look at subsidising these self-test kits even further to even cost under RM10 and thus further enhance affordability and accessibility.
However, he stressed that it was important for the government to properly regulate such test kits to ensure effectiveness as well as establish the necessary enforcement to ensure that those sold were genuine and approved by the Malaysian Medical Device Authority (MDA).
“Currently we have received multiple reports of fake ones being sold online or even those that are not approved, whose effectiveness may be questionable.
“This is the new normal that we need to transition into, and the government must provide a conducive environment for that to happen,” said Dr Yii.