Health Ministry to set up ‘model lab’ in each district to fast-track diagnosis

The move follows a health ministry review of diagnostic facilities in four states– Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
The Union health ministry has decided to upgrade and modernise at least one diagnostic laboratory in each district across India to fast-track diagnosis, especially during an epidemic.

These “model labs” can then be replicated across health centres and hospitals across states, which will help reduce overcrowding of tertiary care hospitals due to referrals.

“The lab of one district hospital will be upgraded with a focus on strengthening microbiology, pathology and biochemistry. States can select and choose the one they want to upgrade first and can later replicate the model in other district hospitals,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS).

The move follows a health ministry review of diagnostic facilities in four states– Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

“The assessment report found some labs didn’t have equipment while the others did not have adequately trained staff to handle those sophisticated machines. Maintenance is also a big problem, as a result many expensive equipment lie unused and people are referred to far-off places for tests,” said Prasad.

On October 25, the DGHS reviewed technical advisory group meeting for integrated laboratories at the district level, and asked for response from the states.

The project is expected to take about six months to complete, and will be spearheaded by director National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and his team.

“Health is a state subject, so the project can’t materialise without taking the states on board. We have asked the states to choose districts as per their requirement. We will show them it is possible to create facilities with a limited budget and produce high-class test reports,” he says.

As part of the greater plan, the health ministry will also mentor a medical college in each state and train doctors, nurses, paramedical and technical staff, who can further train their peers in other hospitals.

“We want to standardise medical colleges and hospitals attached to them. This will be a good way to ensure all of them follow a standard protocol. All these hospitals and labs will gradually be integrated to benefit patients in the long run,” said Prasad


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