New Delhi: India’s leading health institute, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), here stopped collecting samples for tuberculosis testing at its DOT center in the absence of chemical reagents.
The Cartridge Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT), which diagnoses tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance within 2 hours, has not been available at the DOT center for a month and a half now.
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An official communication said frontline LPA, MGIT culture and DST services at the Intermediate Reference Laboratory (IRL) have been temporarily suspended with immediate effect and will resume as soon as chemical regents are available.
A lab staff member, on condition of anonymity, said several tuberculosis tests have been shut down at the center in the past month, and an average of 70 to 80 patients come back empty-handed every day. The CBNATT test has been closed for a month now and other tests for tuberculosis like the LPA culture test and DST have also been closed in the absence of a chemical reagent cartridge, he added.
The chemical cartridge is provided as part of the national tuberculosis control program to all DOTS centers.
In addition to AIIMS, the IRL laboratory, which falls under the Department of Medicine, collects the sample from four other centers – Nehru Nagar, Deen Dayal, Moti Nagar and the NDMC Thoracic Polyclinic – for testing. The DOTS center has now stopped collecting samples from patients because lab technicians are unable to test in the absence of chemical reagents.
A lab staff member said besides the unavailability of chemicals, there was also a staff shortage, with the IRI only having two microbiologists and one technician.
Meanwhile, tuberculosis continues to be the most serious health crisis in India.
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