With the rise in H1N1 (swine flu) cases in July in Mumbai, the demand for tests has increased and hence the need to regulate rates.
A dose in Mumbai costs between 4,000-5,000. This is an additional burden on families where more than one family member needs to be tested, a report said Times of India.
City officials have raised the issue of regulating prices with the current state government but in the absence of the health minister, the matter has not even been cleared for review.
“With limited public facilities offering testing in the city, there should be some movement towards capping the cost of H1N1,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity. TOI.
H1N1 cases in India have soared this year, with 105 infections so far, a nearly five-fold increase over last year. Mumbai reported 66 cases this year, of which 62 were reported in July itself.
However, doctors have warned that the official numbers do not reflect reality due to limited testing as many public hospitals do not offer tests and private hospitals charge high rates.
With similar flu-like symptoms, many people believe they have mild Covid-19 and do not get tested for H1N1. Doctors have emphasized on getting tested if the covid test is negative.
A state official said that when H1N1 emerged in 2009, the tests cost Rs 5,000 but now that more facilities are being provided, the cost has come down. In 2015, when cases spiked in the country, the director general of health told states that tests should not be allowed for more than Rs 2,500, but this did not happen.
Many laboratories claim that the cost of reagents, kits, and labor does not allow them to offer low-cost tests. “Covid test rates fell from Rs 4,500 to Rs 500 as the cost of reagents and other items was also capped,” a laboratory chief told TOI. Dr Ulhas Vaidya of Vaidya Labs said prices will come down as demand increases.
The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) announced a free test to detect cases of swine flu in July but the test requires a doctor’s recommendation.
The public sector Katurba Hospital is also offering free tests but only for patients with severe symptoms like shortness of breath, hypotension and discoloration of nails.
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