New laws to keep mushrooming medical labs in check

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

 The government has decided to keep a check on private medical laboratories mushrooming all round the country and will soon bring in laws to regulate them.

The Health Ministry yesterday said that there were more than 3,000 unregistered private medical laboratories and medical specimen collecting centres scattered across the country and a majority of them had employed unqualified staff as laboratory technologists resulting in inaccurate medical reports being issued on tests conducted by them.

As the Health Ministry had received an avalanche of complaints, the Minister Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the preparation of a National Laboratory Act to regulate the functions of the private laboratories. Under the proposed law, all the Medical Officers’ of Health (MOHs), in the respective areas, would be vested with power to supervise the private medical laboratories and the specimen collecting centres to see whether they employed qualified personnel and issued accurate reports on investigations conducted by them. If any private laboratory fails to comply with the provisions of the Act, it would be prosecuted, the Ministry spokesman said.

He said a draft Bill, to register all the private laboratories and the medical specimen collecting centres, would be submitted to the Legal Draftman’s Department shortly by Secretary to the Health Ministry Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka.

Secretary to the Health Ministry Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka said that on a directive of Minister Maithripala Sirisena a draft National Laboratory Act was under scrutiny. He would submit the draft bill to the Legal Draftman’s Department for special observations.

Under the new National Laboratory Act, all private medical laboratories would have to be registered. "The principal goal in introducing the National Laboratory Act is to check the services provided by the private laboratories. We want to regulate their activities. The Ministry is also keen on checking the quality of the services and the accuracy of the medical reports issued to the patients," Dr. Jayathilaka stressed.


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