Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

Plan for hi-tech test to screen donated blood unviable, shelved

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Posted: August 11, 2014 5:08 am

A proposal to introduce an advanced test in city blood banks to screen donated blood for infectious diseases on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis was shelved this month.

Announced by the previous Congress government, the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) reduces the time taken to detect diseases like HIV and viral hepatitis.

In 2011, the Congress government had first announced the proposal. In 2012, the government announced that it would outsource the project. The government would only provide space to the private operator in its blood banks, it said.

After three stages of screening, only two firms submitted final bids, forcing “non-competitive” test prices to be proposed.

“The government would have to bear the entire cost of the tests. So, there was some problem in formulation of the terms over whether pool or individual tests would be charged for. At the end, the cost per test suggested by the bidders was too high,” a source said.

Sources said eight companies had participated in the first stage. “Most of the companies opted out, which led to the project becoming completely non-viable,” he said.

Sources said the government would “re-evaluate” the project. “We will take the project back to the drawing board to see if outsourcing will work and, if so, what safer terms we can introduce, or whether it will be more viable to run it on our own. We are still keen to introduce the advanced test because it makes donated blood safer,” an official said.

During the last two years of the Congress government in Delhi, several PPPs were announced by the Health department and then shelved.

A proposal to run two super specialty hospitals in Tahirpur and Janakpuri was called off and the hospitals are still to be made fully functional. The terms of a PPP to introduce radiodiagnostic tests was changed multiple times.

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