Kathmandu: The government has reduced the fee for PCR testing to confirm the presence of the coronavirus for the second time in 15 days and fixed the maximum fee at Rs 2,000. They are outraged that the government has reduced more than half of the initial fee twice in 15 days without consulting the private laboratory operators.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population Dr. Speaking at a regular media briefing, Jageshwor Gautam had informed that the fee for the PCR test has been fixed at Rs 2,000 only. He also said that laboratories will not be allowed to add other fees to the prescribed fee.
The government had last reduced the price of the PCR test to Rs 4,400 on August 30. Prices of all types of materials including reagents, extraction kits, swabs, VTMs, and PPEs used in PCR have declined in the international market. Therefore, the government has come to the conclusion that it is appropriate to reduce the fee.
“As the price of the goods purchased by the health service department is cheaper, it is considered as the first basis to reduce the fee,” said senior public health officer and co-spokesperson of the ministry. Samir Adhikari said, “The price of all types of reagents available in the market has also come down. So our conclusion is that testing can be done at such a fee. ‘ According to him, it may be difficult for some laboratories to buy reagents in advance. Otherwise, the price of the reagent seems to have decreased when buying a new one.
At present, around 10,000 PCR tests are done daily from a total of 47 laboratories across Nepal. Of the 47, 34 are government laboratories and 13 are private laboratories. In Nepal, there are currently three types of genes that are multiplexed in the PCR – N gene, E gene, and ORF one AB.
Private laboratory operator says it was an injustice that
the government has reduced the value of twice the maximum charge of 15 days between 2 thousand made the most of the private laboratories are not happy. According to laboratory operators, the government has done an injustice by reducing the PCR testing fee without consulting a single word.
“We have created a separate hall for PCR testing. We have added a PCR machine. And when adjusting the fee, you can only see the value of the reagent? ‘ A private laboratory operator said on condition of anonymity over the phone, “We have recruited more manpower for this. Everyone who works in the hospital should be tested from time to time. I had to see all that. ‘
Similarly, another laboratory operator also responded on condition of anonymity, saying that it would be easier to stop PCR testing than to have to do PCR at the fee prescribed by the government. ‘There are so many tests in Nepal now. Has the government set a fee for all of them? ‘ He said, ‘We take expensive and people go cheap. Only the government laboratory fee could have been fixed by the government. Private took his own account. It would have been cheaper to compete with the government. ‘
According to the operators, the decision of the Kathmandu Medical College to reduce the fee to 2500 a week ago and now the government to reduce it to 2,000 seems to be dominated by political conflict. The new president of Kathmandu Medical College, Dr. Sunil Sharma, and Health Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal was contesting in Morang Constituency No. 3. Dhakal had defeated Sharma.
Does reducing the PCR testing fee also reduce quality?
The director of the National Public Health Laboratory, Dr. According to Runa Jha, it is wrong to think that reducing the fees of private laboratories also reduces the quality of testing.
Dr. According to Jha, the rules made by the National Public Health Laboratory to maintain the quality do not allow the quality of the laboratories to deteriorate. According to him, each laboratory has to send 5 negative and 5 positive reports to the National Public Health Laboratory every month. In addition, each laboratory is required to test and report a Quality Control (QC) sample sent by the National Public Health Laboratory.
“It’s a rule that all labs have to follow. Therefore, reducing the fee does not mean that the quality of the test will be reduced, ‘she said. At the same time, it is not uncommon for most laboratories to reduce costs by charging for infrastructure and machinery for corona testing.