PHC orders fixing of diagnostic test rates

Updated 03 Jul 2020

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PHC asks healthcare body to consult labs on matter. — APP/File
PHC asks healthcare body to consult labs on matter. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission (HCC) to fix the rates of diagnostic tests, including those of Covid-19 and dengue fever, in consultation with private laboratories.

A bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar ordered the commission to consider all testing aspects, including costs incurred, laboratory standards and profit margins, while fixing test rates.

It was hearing a contempt petition filed by lawyer Saifullah Muhib Kakakahel, who contended that in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, a high court judgment delivered on Nov 13, 2019, had assumed importance as laboratories had been charging coronavirus test rates at will.

He said the HCC and health department hadn’t complied with the court’s orders regarding the fixing of test rates for health facilities.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikander Shah appeared for the provincial government. HCC chief executive officer Dr Maqsood and its director, Syed Wilayat Shah, also turned up.

Asks healthcare body to consult labs on matter

The HCC officials informed the court that they had completed the required homework and would notify medical test rates in near future.

The bench asked them to take time and look at all aspects of diagnostic testing before fixing the rates. The hearing was adjourned until July 28.

During hearing, Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that the court didn’t want labs to suffer losses and instead, it only wanted test rates to be affordable for common man.

He said currently, poor patients struggled to afford diagnostic testing charges.

Advocate Saifullah Muhib had earlier filed a petition requesting the court to ask the HCC to regulate test rates at public and private health facilities and make it mandatory for private labs, clinics and hospitals to display rates prominently on the premises.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had accepted the petition in Nov 2019 and ordered the HCC to fix diagnostic test rates in labs, clinics and hospitals within three months.

The respondents in the contempt petition are the HCC chief executive officer, provincial health secretary and director general (health services).

The petitioner requested the court to punish the respondents for contempt.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was the founder of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, which has also been running laboratories in almost all cities of Pakistan.

The petitioner claimed that those laboratories offered services at hefty fee compared to other local laboratories.

He said the court had ruled that the HCC was made not to issue licences only and instead, it was meant to regulate health service providers to the benefit of the people.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020