The state health department has decided to take penal action against the private pathological laboratories if they indulge in rapid tests for diagnosing dengue in violation of the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).
According to the WHO and NVBDCP guidelines, NS1 Elisa and IgM Elisa are the only recognised pathological tests to detect the dengue virus. These tests are highly expensive and it takes at least 24 hours to get reports. But the rapid test is cheaper and virtually gives instant results within 15 to 20 minutes. The rapid test does not give accurate results always.
The director of health services (DHS), Dr BR Satpathi, held a meeting with the representatives of 30 premier private laboratories and Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s health officials at Swasthya Bhaban .
“We have alerted the private labs not to indulge in rapid tests to detect the dengue virus. This type of test has not been approved by the WHO and the ministry of health. A section of private laboratories indulges in this type of unethical serological test just to earn more. We have asked them to conduct the NS1 Elisa and IgM Elisa tests to detect the dengue virus accurately,” Satpathi said.
Several labs are also not regularly sending reports of dengue tests to the health department.
“We have asked them to send the reports regularly to our department in order to keep a watch on the prevalence of the virus,” the DHS said. The health department has asked the private laboratories to charge a uniform amount for the NS1 Elisa and IgM Elisa tests.
“There is no uniformity in the dengue test charges. Several labs are also asking for exorbitant amounts for the same type of tests. Considering the plight of patients, we have proposed to them to ensure that the charge doesn’t vary. I hope they will consider our proposal,” he added.
The KMC is advocating these two types of Elisa tests approved by WHO and NVBDCP.
“The government should launch a drive for carrying out a massive awareness programme on dengue diagnosis tests at a time when the viral outbreak is ravaging Delhi. Many patients rush for rapid tests but these can’t give an accurate result. It’s also a fact that the charge for the Elisa tests is too expensive for the poor and middle class patients,” said a senior microbiologist attached with a staterun medical college in the city.
Private labs charge between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 for a NS1 or IgM test.