As state government capped prices of the advanced ELISA tests that are used to diagnose dengue at Rs 600, officials said that they have no mechanism to regulate and implement the order.
Moreover, pathologists’ associations, crying foul over the number of illegal diagnostic laboratories mushrooming in the city, said that many labs are flouting the government resolution and charging anywhere between Rs 900 -1200 for the tests.
The central government, on August 5, issued an advisory to all the states, to cap the cost of NS1 ELISA and MAC ELISA tests in private hospitals and laboratories to Rs 600. Maharashtra State Government issued a resolution on September 28, issuing a blanket cap of Rs600 for the NS1 and MAC ELISA tests.
The NS1 test is usually administered on the day a patient reports fever. The test helps detect dengue before antibodies appear in the body. The MAC ELISA test, that doctors use to confirm dengue. is more advanced. A dengue case is confirmed only when both tests return positive. “Seeing the monetary exploitation of poor patients by laboratories, state officials were thinking of controlling prices of NS1 ELISA and MAC ELISA tests,” read the government resolution.
However, even a week after the notification was released, a number of laboratories in the city continue to charge their patients according to their existing rates. “Many of these laboratories are illegal. We have been instructing the state to appoint a body to regulate the functioning of diagnostic laboratories, but there is none,” said Dr Rajiv Rao from Pathological Association of Maharashtra.
Rao added that there are about 800-1000 registered laboratories in the city, while the number of illegal facilities are more than 2000. Pointing out the absence of control of government over the private hospitals, he said that there needs to be a uniform policy for everybody. “The laboratories are asked to follow the price charts but the private hospitals are charging lakhs for treatment of dengue patients. If patient welfare is the intention, state should also keep a blanket cap for treatment charge, why the discrimination?” said Rao.
While health minister of the state, being on a visit to Osmanabad, remained unavailable for a comment, his office confirmed that they don’t have a clarification for the regulations of the notification. At the same time, Sujata Saunik, principal secretary (health) said she is out of town and wouldn’t be able to comment on the issue. Dr Mohan Jadhav, director, directorate of health services, didn’t respond to texts and calls made to him to inquire about the matter.