Kenyans willing to pay for COVID 19 test -KEMRI

Many Kenyans are willing to pay for a COVID 19 test at private chemists, reports Kenya Medical Research Institute -KEMRI.

Up to 90 percent of pharmacy clients studied recently in Nairobi, Kisumu and Siaya counties indicated willingness in obtaining the test at a private retail chemist.

“There is a high likelihood of uptake of pharmacy-based rapid COVID-19 testing if priced at between KES500 and KES1,000 (USD 5-10)

On average majority of the 341 pharmacy clients in the study indicated willingness to pay at least KES611 for the test at retail chemists.

“This is very important if Kenya is to win against the virus,” says the research team led by Edwine Barasa, head of the KEMRI Welcome Trust Research Programme in Nairobi.

Retail pharmacies

With low acquisition and uptake of COVID-19 vaccination in Kenya, the researchers say testing remains a crucial response strategy.

“Private retail pharmacies can be leveraged to extend COVID-19 testing coverage through the provision of rapid testing,” said the researchers.

Their findings posted on medRxiv preprints on Monday (11th October 2021) suggest this willingness should be exploited for Kenya to get ahead of the virus.

The authors argue the widespread availability and use of rapid diagnostic tests through retail private pharmacists would be cheaper and faster in acquiring mass testing.

The currently used COVID 19 laboratory detection costs about KES 1,816 (US$ 17.22) per test, requires highly qualified staff and specialized equipment, and may take up to 48 hours.

“Consequently, private retail pharmacies can be used to deliver COVID-19 rapid testing services, hence expanding testing coverage and access to affordable and timely testing.”


The study had engaged 341 adult clients visiting private retail pharmacies in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Siaya counties.

Though most of the clients showed a high willingness to pay for a COVID 19 test at a private pharmacy this declined as the suggested prices increased.

For instance, the study says 53.2 per of the clients would be willing to pay KES 500, but this declined to 42.4 percent if they were to pay KES 750, to 31 percent for KES 1,000 and only about 10 percent would be willing to pay KES 1,500.

Price setting

More clients in Nairobi are willing to pay a higher price than Kisumu with Siaya indicating willingness to pay the lowest price. Generally, more men were willing to pay a higher price compared to women.

These findings, the authors suggest can inform price setting, price differentiation, price subsidization if the government is to involve the private sector in mass COVID 19 testing.

The study also involved Maisha Meds, Kenya, a health technology and data analytics organization operating in the region.

By Gatonye Gathura

The report is available here:

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