Nepal | November 25, 2020

Private labs get ultimatum to cut PCR test fee

Sabitri Dhakal
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The Ministry of Health and Population has given a 24-hour ultimatum to private hospitals and laboratories to bring down the fee for polymerase chain reaction test to Rs 2,000 per test in line with the rate fixed by the government.

“In case they fail to do so, the permission given to them to conduct the test will be scrapped,” said Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, today.

Eight private hospitals and laboratories, including HAMS Hospital, Star Hospital, B&B Hospital and Nepal Mediciti Hospital had issued a press statement on September 27 saying that they would be charging Rs 3,899 for a PCR test.

Earlier on September 14, the government had decided to decrease the fee for PCR test that diagnoses COVID-19 to Rs 2,000 from Rs 4,400.

The Health Emergency Operation Centre had issued a directive to all the laboratories conducting PCR test to charge Rs 2,000 per test as per the decision taken by the Incident Command System meetings held in the presence of Minister of Health and Population, Bhanubhakta Dhakal on September 14.

On August 31, the government had slashed the fee for PCR tests to Rs 4,400 from Rs 5,500.

According to Gautam, the Incident Command System of the Ministry of Health and Population had decided that labs charging fee in excess of what the government had fixed should be warned before directing National Public Health Laboratory to scrap the permission given to them to conduct test.

In case the errant labs fail to bring down the fee even after that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection Management will be asked to take action against them on the charge of black marketing.

Jyotindra Sharma, executive director at HAMS Hospital, said they would not abide by the government ultimatum, adding that the fee fixed by the government was not reasonable.

“Private hospitals and laboratories have to bear additional cost that government hospitals don’t have to,” added Sharma.

“As the health ministry has told us to decrease the price of the PCR test, all the laboratories and hospitals’ management should sit and discuss the issue and come up with a solution,” said Sharma.

Four other labs that are charging Rs 3,899 are also based in Kathmandu valley. They are: Intrepid Diagnostic Centre, Decode Genomics and Research Centre, Central Diagnostic Laboratory and Research Centre and Saurya Healthcare Private Ltd.

A version of this article appears in print on October 01, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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