Weekly Highlights

Covid-19 self test kits still too expensive

The recent announcement by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to cap the price of Covid-19 self-test kits not only come a few months too late, but the capped price of RM 19.90 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 5th September 2021 and they have capped the price at RM16 for wholesale and RM 19.90 for retail.

That is why I urge the government to take an extra step to subsidise the price of the Covid-19 self-test kit to make it affordable and accessible to the mass public as we facilitate the public into accepting it as part of the “new normal” especially as one of important steps to progressively re-open our economy safely and sustainably.

This is an important arm for a systematic and comprehensive “FTTIS+V” National Testing Strategy that is needed in our country to deal with the pandemic. This enables testing at the “point of interaction,” e.g. a factory floor or office or even entrance to any social events in the future to help reduce outbreaks or clusters in such higher risk areas.

Such subsidised prices will also help the SMEs as they incorporate it into their general SOP to reduce outbreaks at workplace clusters. SMEs are already struggling due to the slow economy and the government must look at alleviating some of their burden while encouraging “safe practices” among them to build a frequent testing culture to ensure the economy keeps going.

The government should also look into reducing red tapes and bureaucracy when it comes to approving self-test kits that meets the necessary requirements. When there is more brands in the market, this will encourage competition in the market which will drive down the price once ordered in bulk especially when the demand increases as the government cultivate a culture of testing throughout the community.

From there the government can look at subsidising it further to make it even below RM 10 to make it affordable and accessible as they cultivate a culture of self-testing among our community.

However, it is then important for the government to then properly regulate such test kits to ensure its effectiveness and make the necessary enforcement to make sure those sold in the market are genuine and approved by the Malaysian Medical Device Authority (MDA). Currently we received multiple reports of “fake ones” being sold online or even those that are not approved which 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.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching

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