PROMINENT Zimbabwean businessman and African Union special envoy, Mr Strive Masiyiwa, has announced free Covid-19 testing in the country, along with ramped up testing for the broader population at cost, through his Higherlife Foundation (HLF) and Testing Alliance.
The billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist said their free Covid-19 began Thursday.
“Starting today (Thursday), any Zimbabwean who wants a Covid-19 test can get it. We have built a #Testing Alliance of over 1 500 partners, including private doctors, clinics and pharmacies,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“We supply them with test kits on consignment (they don’t pay for them upfront) and we cap the cost of their tests at US$15 for RDT and US$30 for PCR (when it becomes available in two weeks).”
Mr Masiyiwa said those who live-in low-income areas and rural areas would not pay anything for the tests, as the costs will be covered by the foundation.
“Nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers also get free tests. We make zero profit on the kits and testing. We just try to recover the cost,” he said.
“The HSR (Health Status Report) is a tool, which enables us to pay the doctors who carry out the tests. It is like a franchise system: We basically pay the doctors, pharmacists, and private laboratories US$5 per test, after recovering the cost of the test kit itself.
“Once they send the details on the HSR, we pay them. I know one doctor who is currently doing 10 tests per hour.”
As the country fights against the spread of Covid-19, Mr Masiyiwa said more testing was needed in order to reduce lockdown restrictions.
“We are shipping special laboratories to help scale up testing particularly at border posts. Border posts can easily become what are called ‘super spreaders’ if you put people in containment,” he said.
“Helping to clear backlogs of testing is our highest priority. The Zimbabwe initiative is a trial, which I and a few donors are looking to scale to other countries, if it helps to slow down infections.”
Mr Masiyiwa said another initiative was being worked on to try and help those who are infected whose details would be revealed next week.