The Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU) in Meghalaya has raised objection to the State Health Department’s latest instructions to conduct Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on all patients visiting PHCs/CHCs and Private Clinics to detect COVID-19.
In a letter submitted to Meghalaya Health Minister AL Hek, the JSU has said that mandatory COVID-19 testing in health centres would discourage patients from visiting them, even if the patients are suffering from serious ailments.
“We feel that if the health facilities are to practice such testing of all visiting patients, it will lead to most patients suffering from different ailments to stay away from such authentic healthcare providers thus prevent the detection and proper treatment of their diseases or any health complications,” the JSU said in its letter.
It added: “we highly oppose to this and urge the government to kindly consider this matter keeping in mind of any future harmful implications.”
The JSU further said that COVID testing in private clinics would put additional financial burden on the people, who are already going through difficult times owing to the pandemic.
The JSU said, “Also, if the government intended for testing in private clinics, it will also burden the patients to have to pay more for their medical expenses arising out of the need for unnecessary testing which would highly affect the poor especially in these times of COVID pandemic.”
“We urge the government to instead carry on with testing only of those showing symptoms at both public and private institutions in which the government should provide these testing for free as per recommendations of medical health practitioners,” the JSU further said.
It added: “By providing free testing it will cut down on medical expenses of those suffering with the COVID infection and help in detecting the virus.”
Notably, the Meghalaya Health Department via letter dated July 3, 2021 had instructed Deputy Commissioners of all districts to initiate mandatory RAT testing for all patients in PHCs/CHCs and also private clinics.
“…all Private Clinics/Practitioners/ PHCs/CHCs are to mandatorily do TA do RAT testing for all patients visiting such facilities,” the Meghalaya Health Department letter to the DCs read.
The letter added, “This will help in isolating the virus with Variant of Concern (Delta Plus variant) and reduce fatality rate.”