The Telangana government will start diagnostic centres in 19 district headquarters and in major government hospitals from Monday, with the move paving the way for people to get many diagnostic tests, including for Covid-19, done free of cost.

While treatment for Covid-19 is free at government hospitals, patients often have to get several medical tests done at private diagnostic centres which charge hefty fees, increasing the financial burden on the economically backward people.

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had earlier directed health officials to set up the diagnostic centres at identified places so that eligible beneficiaries can get a battery of tests done, including blood and urine analysis, tests to determine diabetes and hypertension, as well as for diseases of liver, kidney, thyroid, lungs and even cancer, free of cost.
At a Covid review meeting on Saturday, Rao said that the cost of diagnostic tests leads to heavy economic burden on the people and therefore government diagnostic centres should be set up at district headquarters and at major government hospitals.

‘Medical investigations for different diseases are an important part of treatment now. Now, Covid patients have to undergo a lot of tests. The government doctors write prescriptions but patients often have to go to private clinics to get tested, spending a lot of money. This has led to heavy financial burden on the poor,” the CM said.

Health department officials said that 57 types of tests would be conducted at these centres, which include investigations for Covid-19. The list includes blood and urine tests as well as medical investigations for diabetes, hypertension, cardiac ailments, orthopaedic diseases, liver, kidney and thyroid-related X-ray.

The CM said that besides the common tests, certain special investigations which are expensive would also be done at these centres free of cost. He added that the test reports will be delivered directly to the registered mobile numbers of patients.

Rao further said that very expensive equipment with state-of-the-art technology has been installed at these centres. Such costly equipment has been available till now only in private hospitals and in major government hospitals like Gandhi, Osmania and NIMs, he added.

Among the testing equipment that have been installed are fully automatic immunoassay analyser, five-part cell counters, fully automatic urine analysers, machines for ECG, 2-D Echo, ultrasound, digital X-Ray, CT scan and other imaging testing units. These equipment work very fast and produce 400 to 800 reports per hour.

The CM said the government has ensured that adequate pathologists, microbiologists, radiologists and other staff needed to conduct the tests are posted at these centres.

Elaborating further, the CM added, ‘For medical treatment, medical expenses that patients have to bear include transport costs to reach the hospital, doctor’s fee, cost of medicines and diagnostic tests, expenses in the in-patient ward and also transport charges to come back home after discharge. In case of death, there are also funeral expenses. The government is bearing all these expenses and offering free treatment in government hospitals.’

He added, ‘The government runs 428 ambulances under the 108 ambulance service. Moreover, 300 vehicles are already in operation under the Amma Vodi Scheme, which provides free transport cost to pregnant women when they travel to hospitals and come back home after delivery. In the diagnostic centres which are starting from Monday, the government has made arrangements for poor patients availing treatment under the PHCs on the doctor’s advice to get their samples sent to the nearest centre. This will ensure that samples are tested on time and reports delivered quickly.’
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