Indian Medical Association: All pathologists to conduct COVID tests

Updated: Jul 10, 2020, 07:24 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Indian Medical Association seeks permission for the same; wants government and ICMR's intervention to scrap requirement of NABL accreditation to laboratories in order to add 5,000 more antigen testing labs in the state

Currently only National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) approved laboratories and institutes are allowed to conduct COVID tests. PIC/Pradeep Dhivar
Currently only National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) approved laboratories and institutes are allowed to conduct COVID tests. PIC/Pradeep Dhivar

The Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra (IMA), has suggested a way to increase COVID-19 testing centres with another 5,000 units in the state. It wants all qualified and Maharashtra Medical Council approved, experienced and qualified pathologists and microbiologists to be allowed to carry out antigen testing.

However, since only National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) approved laboratories and institutes are allowed to conduct COVID tests, the IMA has appealed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to remove this rider of NABL accreditation.

"At present in the government hospitals, COVID testing is done under the supervision of a medical officer, with or without pathology/microbiology qualifications. Then why not grant permission to qualified and experienced specialist pathologists?" asked Dr Avinash Bhondwe, IMA (Maharashtra) president. He has written to the authorities seeking permission for IMA members.

Bhondwe told mid-day that the results will be available in 30 minutes at much lower cost compared to the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing, if the pathologists are allowed. "It will add at least 5,000 more testing centers and will be easy and quick to check people in the containment areas and hotspots. This will also widen the testing network to the remotest areas," said Dr Bhondwe.

Dr Bhondwe said the pathologists, if allowed to test, can also help non-COVID patients get admitted for surgery, emergency treatment, delivery and many other procedures of emergent nature.

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