Lab technologists want Health Ministry to prevent fleecing


By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Sri Lanka Society of Medical Laboratory Science (SLSMLS) yesterday urged the Health Ministry to facilitate an observation system to ensure that importers of reagents for dengue tests were not faced with undue harassment.

SLSMLS President Ravi Kumudesh said importers of reagents required to perform the full blood count (FBC) and the dengue rapid diagnostic test (DRDT) were in difficulties due to high import duties.

Kumudesh said that besides duties, importers incurred other expenses in the form of commissions that had to be given at various levels to speed up the process of placing those products in the market. As a result the prices of reagents were ten times higher than those in the countries of origin, Kumudesh said.

The SLSMLS President said that as a result reagents kits which were sold for less than Rs. 300 in the Indian and Malaysian markets cost between Rs. 600 and Rs. 1000 in Sri Lanka.

Kumudesh said that Sri Lanka needed to reduce import duties on reagents for the benefit of patients.

Although the move to reduce the price levied by private sector hospitals on dengue patients was welcome, the Ministry should also ensure that the scheme was economically viable.

The Health Ministry has, in a letter to importers of medical equipment and suppliers, appealed for a price reduction in charges for reagents required for full blood count (FBC) and dengue antigen tests (DATs) for the private sector hospitals recently.

Meanwhile sources of the Private Hospital Association (PHA) said they would have to discuss the issues of continuing to perform FBC and DAT tests at Rs. 250 and Rs. 1,000 with the state health sector authorities.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that four out of 36 private sector health institutions which had been inspected to ensure if the Health Ministry directive for price reduction was being implemented four had violated instructions.


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