159 free tests on India’s first diagnostics list
The diagnostics list mentions105 general laboratory tests for a broad range of common conditions, 30 disease-specific tests such as for HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and 24 imaging tests including X-rays, CT and MRI scans and ultrasound sonography.Updated: Aug 15, 2019 01:36 IST
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has finalized the country’s first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) that recommends that at least 159 tests should be made available for patients in even rudimentary government health facilities.
The list is on the lines of the essential drugs list, the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) which was first released in 1996 and last updated in 2015.
The diagnostics list mentions105 general laboratory tests for a broad range of common conditions, 30 disease-specific tests such as for HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and 24 imaging tests including X-rays, CT and MRI scans and ultrasound sonography.
“India is the first country to compile such a list that should provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require. The list is meant for facilities from village till the district level,” says Dr Kamini Walia, senior scientist, ICMR. Walia led the team from ICMR that compiled the list.
The experts from ICMR, health ministry and other organizations started work on compiling the list in March last year.
In the absence of lab infrastructure or resources and to minimize the patient movement between providers, ICMR has suggested the so-called “hub and spoke” model for certain tests in the NEDL.
“The list builds upon the health ministry’s free diagnostics service initiative and takes inputs proposed under the revised Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS). The list is very realistic and with the Ayushman Bharat initiative and the emphasis on Universal Health Coverage, it will be very handy,” says Walia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a first edition of its essential diagnostics list (EDL) in May, 2018, and this acted as the reference point for the ICMR list. “Even though it did act as a reference point, we made improvisations to the list based on India’s needs,” Walia adds.
“If you are looking at free diagnostics then an essential list will be very useful; and it can always be expanded depending on local requirements,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India.