Govt suspends facility from carrying out Covid-19 tests

Monday July 26 2021

A health worker takes a swab sample for Covid-19 testing at Mulago Hospital last year. PHOTO | FILE

By Tonny Abet

The Ministry of Health has suspended a private health facility, Selmek Medical Services Ltd, from providing Covid-19 testing services over fraudulent results. 
However, Selmek said it was unfairly targeted by the ministry because it was collecting and taking Covid-19 samples to Makerere University laboratory where the tests are conducted.  

The July 21 letter by Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of health services at the ministry, to Selmek indicated that the facility had not been accredited by government to do “Covid-19 testing/sample collection.”
“The Ministry of Health, through reports from Entebbe International Airport and other laboratory results, has observed a high rate of fraudulent Covid-19 results for samples associated with your facility,” the letter to the executive director of Selmek reads in part.
“With immediate effect, you are instructed to stop Covid-19 testing/sample collection services...” the statement added.

Reacting to the letter, Mr Eric Mivule, the head of Selmek Medical Services, said he could not be blamed because he doesn’t do Covid-19 testing.
“I don’t test for Covid-19. I collect samples and take them to Makerere University. It is the one [institution] that tests the samples. They send the results to us and we give the results to customers,” he said, adding that they will hold a press conference today. 
But the head of Makerere University Covid-19 testing laboratory, Prof Moses Joloba, said: “If Makerere [University testing laboratory] had a problem, then the Ministry of Health could have closed it. But we are testing even today.” 

The suspension of Selmek  comes at a time when the government is grappling with rampant reports of travellers originating from Entebbe International Airport, who had negative Covid-19 certificates, but later test positive for the virus in the country of destination.
Two weeks ago, the ministry ordered that all migrant workers will undergo confirmatory tests for Covid-19, 24 hours before their flight in a move to determine the cause of fake results and salvage the country from being blacklisted for violating international health regulations on safe travel. 

Accredited facilities
The accredited laboratories include UVRI, CPHL, Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), Makerere University, Mild May Laboratory, Tororo Mobile Laboratory, Mutukula Mobile Laboratory, Adjumani Mobile Laboratory, Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC), MBN Laboratory, Medipal International Hospital, Test and Fly Laboratory, Uganda Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchison Laboratory, IOM Laboratory, ANCA Biotech.

 Other accredited facilities include Case Clinic, MSF-Epicentre Lab Mbarara, Rakai Health Sciences, TestXpress Laboratories, Lancet Laboratories, Gulu University Biomedical Centre, City Medicals, MSF Epicentre Labs, Mbarara, ATCG Laboratories, and MAIA Group Labs.