Government of India will be announcing a new scheme – National strategy for providing essential diagnostics facilities free for all i.e. Free Diagnostic Tests for All very soon. This Govt. scheme will provide free diagnostic tests for the people visiting public health facilities. The tests include several blood tests, x-rays and advanced CT scans. If required, private service providers may also be added in.
Many a times health economists and public health experts expressed concern on outsourcing the tests to the private sector. As per them it is an “expensive and inefficient” way to provide the services. The necessity of providing free diagnostics test for all has been raised by many other people who understand the importance.
In India, annually 5 crore people are pushed below the poverty line (BPL) by the costs of drugs and diagnostics together. This add up to around 70 per cent of health expenditure. The proposed national strategy for providing essential diagnostics facilities free for all is meant for everyone who visit a public health facility from a village health post to a district hospital.
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As per media reports, a panel of experts have provided the list of diagnostic tests considered essential for all categories of health facilities to the government. The health ministry has also consulted some of the biggest companies in the diagnostic sector, including SRL, Dr Lal PathLabs, Quest Diagnostics, Mahajan Imaging and Star Imaging to thrash out all service provider issues.
According to the government sources the scheme is meant to be implemented under the National Health Mission. Currently the diagnostics and reagents sectors have only 20 per cent market share in the medical technology market. This initiative will help to promote these sectors.
Under the scheme, existing diagnostic infrastructure in government institutions need to be strengthened. The state governments will support to engage with private service providers for collection of blood samples, analysis and reporting.
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As per National Strategy for Providing Essential Diagnostics Facilities free For All scheme, only high-cost low-volume tests will be outsourced. As most of the physicians are not trained to read x-ray films, these will be sent electronically to radiology centres for proper diagnosis. The Centre will also help the states to have CT scan services at district level under public-private partnerships. Existing diagnostic infrastructure in government institutions will be strengthened under the scheme. In case there is no infrastructure, state governments will engage with private service providers for collection of blood samples, analysis and reporting.