The lack of dengue test kits at Patna Medical College and Hospital has compelled many residents to visit private diagnostic centres and cough up exorbitant amounts.
On Wednesday, Gopalganj-based farmer Ramji Singh had to shell out Rs 1,200 at a private diagnostic centre to get the dengue test done.
Similarly, Patna resident Ravindra Kumar, a rickshaw puller, was forced to get the test done from a private hospital for Rs 1,000.
Both Singh and Kumar were denied the free tests at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH).
Sources at the civil surgeon’s office said PMCH had run out of dengue testing kits since Tuesday and hence no tests could be conducted.
“Among government institutions, only PMCH, Nalanda Medical College and Hospital and Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences have the necessary equipment to conduct the tests. At private hospitals and diagnostic centres, one has to shell out something between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200, a big amount for a poor person,” said an official at the civil surgeon’s office.
He added: “Also, most of the private centres conduct a rapid diagnostic test on suspected dengue patients, which according to us is not very authentic. We only rely on the Elisa test, which is more accurate. So patients getting the rapid diagnostic test conducted at private centres are shelling out their hard-earned money on a test that is not authentic.”
A visibly depressed Ramji said: “I got to know from the official here that the dengue testing kits are unavailable in the laboratory of the microbiology department. It is really sad that the biggest state-run hospital doesn’t have the devices. Why couldn’t the hospital administration arrange it on time when it is aware that a large number of dengue cases are being reported and many patients are thronging the PMCH?”
Echoing similar feelings, Ravindra said: “I couldn’t get my test done at PMCH today (Wednesday). The microbiology department lab was closed owing to Gandhi Jayanti but an official told me the dengue testing kits are unavailable since Tuesday.”
He added: “I was compelled to get the test done at a private diagnostic centre in Patliputra Colony, where I had to shell out Rs 1,200. If the kits had been available at PMCH, I would have saved the money.”
When The Telegraph asked PMCH superintendent Dr Amar Kant Jha Amar about the non-availability of testing kits, he assured the devices would be available from tomorrow (Thursday).
“Yes, it is true that we had run out of kits on Tuesday. The National Institute of Virology, Pune, supplies us the devices. The kits were scheduled to reach us by Tuesday but it couldn’t for some reason. Today (Wednesday), I got the supplier’s call. He told me he would hand over the kits in the evening. We would start conducting the tests from Thursday,” said the PMCH superintendent.