PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department to provide kits meant for dengue medical tests to private laboratories to ensure uniform charges for such tests in the provincial capital.
Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Younas Taheem warned representatives of private laboratories to stop charging exorbitant rates for conducting the dengue tests otherwise the bench would issue appropriate order for taking action against them.
Representatives of several private laboratories appeared before the bench and said if the government provided them with the dengue testing kits at the rate of Rs320 each, they would charge Rs350 per test.
They said they had been carrying out dengue tests using quality kit, which was much costlier than the one used by the health department.
The lab representatives claimed that at least Rs700 was spent on each test and so, they were unable to reduce rates.
PHC also orders fixing of uniform testing rates
The bench fixed Oct 31 for the next hearing into a petition of lawyer Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel seeking orders for the respondents, including provincial government, health secretary, local government secretary and Peshawar deputy commissioner, to take immediate steps for dengue eradication in Peshawar.
The petitioner requested the court to order the government to take both preventive and curative measures against dengue.
The bench asked the health department to produce in the next hearing its report about the prevalent situation of dengue fever in the province, especially in Peshawar, and a separate report about the provision of testing kits to private laboratories.
Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed that private laboratories instead of trying to earn money in such like epidemic should come forward in support of the government and people.
He observed that sometimes, the situation was so alarming that the government institutions couldn’t handle it alone and it needed support of the private sector.
Justice Qaiser regretted that despite alarming situation of dengue fever in the province, the private laboratories had been earning huge profit from patients.
He warned that if they failed to mend their ways, the high court would constitute a committee of experts for ascertaining how much expenses were incurred on each of the tests and how much profit these laboratories had been earning from patients.
An additional director general (health services) informed the bench that on the directives of the high court, he had held meetings with owners of private laboratories for fixing a uniform rate of dengue teats but the latter didn’t agree.
He added that the kit used for testing dengue fever was available for Rs320 but private laboratories claimed that they incurred Rs700 on each test.
Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Shah claimed that dengue remained confined to few areas due to the steps taken by the government and didn’t spread to other parts of the provincial capital.
He said free medical treatment had been provided to dengue patients in the government health facilities, while the government hospitals offered free blood screening service to the suspected dengue cases.
Mr Shah said the continuous spray had been carried out throughout the city and other areas for containing dengue, while public awareness campaign was also in progress and officials of health departments had been visiting different localities in that respect.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017