Patna, Sept. 26: The microbiology laboratory at Patna Medical College and Hospital has acquired a stamp of approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to conduct tests and deliver final results for three viral diseases — polio, rubella, and measles.
The new status — that of a “national laboratory” — will make testing of these viral diseases faster in Bihar and neighbouring states as well as allow it to receive monetary aid from the Centre and international organisations to further upgrade its facilities.
However, the final tests for polio will still have to be done elsewhere as the PMCH lab is yet to acquire the necessary equipment. The status was granted after visits by WHO teams, said Shankar Prakash, head of the microbiology department at PMCH.
“Our reports on rubella and measles will now be final — earlier, samples were sent to laboratories in Bangalore and Chennai for validation,” Prakash said.
“This will reduce the waiting time for testing. But samples for polio will, however, be sent to a laboratory in Pune. We can only concentrate the polio virus and do primary testing and cannot do final tests here as we don’t have equipment and resources needed for culturing (growing the virus in cells),” said Prakash.
The microbiology department used to collect sewage samples from the state and send them to laboratories at Mumbai and Chennai to look for polio virus in them.
Earlier this year, a team of five members comprising doctors and technicians was sent to labs at Mumbai and Chennai for training. “These training sessions were sponsored by WHO and more such sessions will follow in the coming months. The diagnoses for these viruses are extremely technical and sophisticated and require great skills to be able to conduct these tests,” he added.
The centre’s plan to convert the microbiology laboratory into full-fledged virology lab, meanwhile, is stuck due to the state government’s apathy as even after sanctioning Rs 3.59 crore for buying sophisticated machines and diagnostic equipment, the health department is yet to procure them.