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Posted at: May 18, 2018, 1:34 AM; last updated: May 18, 2018, 1:34 AM (IST)

India plans essential diagnostics list by year-end

Aims at driving down costs of testing and treating key diseases, advancing goal of universal health coverage

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17

The government has started working on the first national list of essential diagnostics (EDL) along the lines of the National List of Essential Medicines to drive down costs of disease-detection and treatment across the country.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India’s apex medical research body, recently held a meeting with stakeholders, including clinicians, microbiologists and medical device industry leaders, to formulate the list comprising “good quality, affordable and appropriate health products” to advance the goal of universal health coverage.

The move is timed with the publication of the first global model list of essential in-vitro diagnostics (EDL) by the WHO that has covered 58 diagnostic tests in the first list promising annual updates based on disease burden and patterns. The WHO has shared the EDL with member nations urging them to add to it depending on local disease burden.

The ICMR will adopt the WHO model list and include additional tests in it to address Indian infection patterns and diseases. Attempts will be made to implement the national EDL at primary health care level first to ensure affordable treatment in government settings.

“We have started the work and the Indian EDL will be ready by year-end or the beginning of the next year. We will share the list with the government for optimum utilisation of the national essential medicines list. The objective is to test and treat rather than treat and test. Why should we over medicate? Also, price control of key diagnostics will become possible once the government adopts EDL. Lab testing capacities will also have to be created where none exists. This will drive down costs of treatment,” Dr Kamini Walia of ICMR told The Tribune.

Some tests on WHO list

Haemoglobin (helps monitor anaemia; is a key marker for malaria, dengue); white blood cell count (surrogate marker for certain infections and cancers like leukaemia); CBC (helps detect anaemia, infections and leukaemia), human chorionic gonadotropin also called hCG (for pregnancy); glucose test (for diabetes); mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria test (for TB detection), etc.

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