The State government has been lately busy persuading the private laboratories for reducing the prices of COVID-19 testing kits since the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) waived off the price cap on the coronavirus testing. The ICMR is trying to negotiate with the laboratories where each test is priced at Rs 4,500 which was the original rate that the state government issued.
Medical Education Minister of Maharashtra Amit Deshmukh stated that the price cap for COVID-19 testing has already been reduced to half in Mumbai and claimed that they would try to lessen the prices in Pune also. "Along similar lines, we are also planning to reduce the COVID-19 test price in Pune and other districts," Deshmukh said.
The Medical Education Minister visited Pune on Friday to analyze the situation. During a press conference in Pune, he was quoted by HT as saying, "We will go by the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines and we have appealed to the private sector that prices should come down as the volume of testing has increased."
"We have been able to negotiate with labs in Mumbai and have convinced them to bring down the price by half to around 2,500 to 2,000 in Mumbai. We would try to do the same for Pune. As the number of people seeking these tests has gone up, we believe it would also be affordable for labs to bring down the price furthermore," he added.
However, Secretary of Medical Education and Drugs department Dr Sanjay Mukherjee said, "Four member panel of the state was busy negotiating with the 80 laboratories for fixing COVID-19 test prices for each district. "They will arrive at the final price soon. The rates will be different for each district depending on factors like workload, transport costs and so on," he said.
"This high-powered committee has been given a week's time to negotiate the prices and to make a standard tender document for all districts. The district will float these short notice tenders and whichever is the lower price - the negotiated or the tendered price - will be the one…" he added.
Deshmukh claimed that in comparison to the tests being performed in the state according to the guidelines issued by ICCMR, the number of positive cases while testing has slightly dropped. However, the government is trying to reduce not only the number of tests in the state which is the worst-hit by the pandemic but also putting efforts to bring down the death rate.
"The fight against COVID-19 is not inside but outside the hospitals. I salute and congratulate all health workers who are at the forefront of this war and sadly we have lost a few health workers in this war and the state government stands by them and their family," the Minister said.
Deshmukh also mentioned about the state government's plan to introduce a rating system in the public hospitals after the situation improves. This facility will help to focus on the infrastructural issues in healthcare systems.
"The government is also prioritising filling in all the vacant posts of nurses and doctors in government colleges and hospitals," he further added.
Deshmukh also said that earlier, there were just 4 VDRL's (Viral Diagnostics laboratories) in Maharashtra but now the state has the highest number of VDRL's at 80, which are located throughout the state.