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Definitive diagnosis: Punjab PA seeks answers over lack of hepatitis-C tests

RAWALPINDI: Administrations of the three allied hospitals in the garrison city have been asked by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat to explain their inability to conduct specific tests to diagnose hepatitis-C, hospital sources told The Express Tribune.

Superintendents of Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) have been asked to submit their answers.

The letters were dispatched following a questioned asked by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA over the unavailability of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in the province’s hospitals.

Quoting media reports, MPA Malik Taimoor had raised a question on the Punjab Assembly floor, saying the inability to conduct these key tests was a major cause for concern. In the subsequent letter, the secretary of the provincial assembly sought a detailed response from the officials.

The three hospitals had stopped providing the facility of PCR tests in September after all the available kits to perform the tests had been exhausted.

Irregularities worth millions of rupees were reported in the process of providing of kits and machines for PCR tests at public hospitals across Punjab.

Further, the supplier did not provide the right machinery required by the government. Hospitals received the CFX Connect to conduct PRC tests for hepatitis-C, but the machines themselves were not ‘CE’ certified. However, the booklets provided with these machines were for the CE certified RoboGene machine.

The CE (Conformité Européene) are marks of standard compliance for electronic machines manufactured in or for Europe, health officials said.

After reports emerged about the short supply of kits and uncertified machines, the Punjab Health Department had stopped purchasing fresh kits from the supplier. As a result, it caused a shortage of kits at the allied hospitals which subsequently stopped conducting the PCR tests at public hospitals.

It may be mentioned that the public hospitals in Punjab were providing the PCR tests free of cost with each such test costing around Rs15,000 at private laboratories.

According to statistics, every 10th person in Pakistan suffers from one form of hepatitis or the other.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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