The government has given permission to two private laboratories of Kathmandu to conduct PCR tests by charging fees violating its own guidelines.
The Health Ministry initially had given permission only to Bir Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) and Patan Hospital to do PCR tests charging fees. It had then expanded that to one government hospital in every province.
But it has now extended the permission to Kathmandu Medical College (KMC) and Star Hospital of Kathmandu, according to Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr Jageshwore Gautam.
"Those meeting the criteria will get tested by the government laboratories for free. But should those who have to go abroad or need a certificate to prove health not get it? We, have, therefore, given permission," Gautam defended the decision violating the government guidelines.
The government has given permission to six private laboratories including KMC, Star, Central Diagnostic Laboratory, Surya Health Care of Lazimpat, Kathmandu, National Path Lab of Butwal and Bageshwori Laboratory of Kohalpur to do PCR tests. But they cannot collect the samples and are allowed to only test surplus samples in government laboratories.
The Health Ministry will have to send excess samples that the government laboratories cannot test to the private laboratories for testing, according to the guidelines. A team has been formed in the ministry to decide which laboratories to send the extra samples to.
KMC and Star out of those six can now collect samples and do tests charging fees after the latest decision. They will have to charge Rs 5,500 for every test that the government has agreed to pay for testing the surplus samples.
"How can we give permission to everyone that asks? We have, therefore, given permission to only two that also have a hospital to go with the laboratory," he added when asked why only two of the six private laboratories with permission to do PCR tests have been allowed to do tests charging fees.
He claimed that the private laboratories have been given permission to collect samples and do tests to ensure that those who need tests don't have to wait for a long time. "We have given permission to the two private laboratories as people who have to go abroad, who are working in diplomatic missions and those wishing to get themselves tested have to wait for a long time with government laboratories."