Centre to invest Rs324 crore to expand laboratory testing infra


NEW DELHI: The Union government will set up over 42 virology research and diagnostic laboratories under a central scheme during the period of 15th Finance Commission (2021-22 to 2025-26) at a cost of Rs324 crore.

The scheme under the Department of Health Research (DHR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) aims to help boost coverage of timely diagnosis and identification of viruses during an epidemic outbreak, generation of data about viral diseases for facilitating quick deployment of resources and measures to save human lives.

The scheme was approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) in 2013 at an estimated cost of Rs646.83 crores for the 12th Plan period. The Standing Finance Committee gave its approval to scheme in 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs488.5 crores for 14th Finance Commission Period (2017-18 to 2019-20). The scheme was extended by one year till 31 March, 2021, in order to tie it up with the 14th Finance Commission Period.

“In a recent standing finance committee meeting in March 2021, the scheme was further approved to be continued,” said a senior official in the health ministry adding that this will further help in India’s fight against covid-19.

Initially the target of the scheme was to establish three-tier network of 160 laboratories – 10 regional level labs, 30 state-level lab, and 120 medical college labs. Thereafter, the target was reduced to 125 viral research & diagnostic laboratories (10 regional laboratories; 25 state level laboratories and 90 medical college level laboratories) during the 14th Finance Commission. As on 31st March 2021, a network of 124 VRDLs has been established.

According to the guidelines for setting up laboratories, issued by the DHR this week, additional regional laboratories can also be established in central government institutes of repute including Armed Medical Colleges.

“They can also be established in central government institutes providing medical and health services viz. railways hospitals, AYUSH hospitals etc, if they fulfil the parameters for setting up of VRDL, prescribed in the scheme guidelines,” the health ministry official said.

News Source:- Livemint

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