JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Health Ministry’s director of prevention and control of infectious diseases Siti Nadia Tarmizi said Indonesia has been evaluating the cost of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests periodically.
The evaluation, which has been jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health and the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP), aims to prevent the Covid-19 swab test from unwanted business interests.
“Together with BPKP, we evaluate the pricing policy periodically by making some adjustments according to the current conditions,” said Nadia in a statement on Monday, November 8.
“The evaluation is done to avoid the unwanted business interests from happening and ensure price certainty for the people,” she said.
She further added that the evaluation of the pricing policy has been done three times during the pandemic. The first price evaluation took place on October 5, 2020, when the Covid-19 swab test was set at 900,000 Indonesia rupiahs ($63).
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This year, the government has done the evaluation twice on August 16 and October 27. In August, the price was set at 495,000 Indonesia rupiahs ($35) within Java and Bali areas and 525,000 Indonesia rupiahs ($37) outside Java and Bali areas. Meanwhile, in October, the cost has been reduced to 275,000 Indonesia rupiahs ($19) within Java and Bali and 300,000 Indonesia rupiahs ($21) outside Java and Bali.
“I reiterate once again that in determining the cost of PCR tests, it is not done by the Ministry of Health alone, but it is done together with BPKP,” said Nadia.
The Covid-19 swab test price would be based on several components, including the labor cost, reagents, consumables, administrative cost, overhead cost, and others.
“The cost of Reagents is the highest, reaching 45-55 percent of the total cost.”
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Previously, Nadia said the cost of the Covid-19 swab test was higher as it was affected by its limited stocks in the market. It also happened to the prices of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) at the beginning of the pandemic last year. However, the conditions have been gradually improved after more masks and PPE were produced in the country.
The reagents for PCR swab test were only produced by less than 30 producers in Indonesia previously compare to 200 types of PCR swab reagents following the permits from the ministry now.
“This means that the producers are competing in the variations and prices for the components of PCR swab reagents.”
The need for PCR swab tests is driven by the increase in specimen examination in the country, where the positivity rate is below 0.4 percent of the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The sooner confirmed cases are detected, the sooner they can be separated from the healthy ones and this can prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” she added.
(Writer: Dian Erika Nugraheny | Editor: Kristian Erdianto)
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