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Pakistan Hospitals to Get PCR Kits with Free Machines

The Pakistan health department is planning to procure the Rs40 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits for public sector hospitals, asking the successful bidders to provide free diagnostic machines with them.

The department has already installed 10 PCR machines in the province’s teaching hospitals offering free hepatitis tests to visitors.

“Though our machines are functioning well, the technological advancements have led to the manufacturing of better equipment. We will float tenders for the procurement of PCR kits asking the successful bidders to provide us with free machines, too,” manager of the KP Hepatitis Control Programme Dr Kalimullah Khan told Dawn.

He said the new equipment would be placed in hospitals to benefit patients, who required the PCR test at the start and end of the treatment.

Dr Kalim said the visitors to hospitals were screened on rapid immuno-chromatographic test machine for hepatitis C antibodies detection and were subjected to the PCR test after being found positive.

“It is mandatory to do the PCR on patients before prescribing them treatment for hepatitis C. We cannot provide PCR machine to each of 33 sentinel centres for hepatitis patients. The positive cases found on rapid kits are sent to the nearest hospitals, where machines are available,” he said.

Dr Kalim said it was a standard practice that the manufacturers of kits provided new PCR machines to those purchasing them in bulk.

“We will return machines after we exhaust the stock of kits otherwise we will seek free machines from the kit makers after getting a no objection certificate from them,” he said.

He said the use of the existing and new machines would make treatment process easier as the hospitals having molecular biologists would use them.

The anti-hepatitis programme’s manager said a technical committee had finalised the purchase of new kits from the bidders offering the lowest prices and best quality.

“All types of rapid ICT for hepatitis C are imported but we will be evaluating them in the presence of molecular biologists to ensure that no error take place,” he said.

Dr Kalim said normally, a single kit was enough for 100 PCR tests but it could be 90 or 80 tests, which the department would decide before awarding the contract to the supplier.

He said the successful bidder would give a certificate that their product was meant for carrying out quantity of tests.

The anti-hepatitis programme’s manager said they had introduced Sofosbuvir, a new pill given to patients for six months orally, whose results had shown that it was effective in 98 per cent of the cases.

“Now, we have begun administering Daclatasavir to the patients, who use it with Sofosbuvir for three months. We have planned to conduct a study on the efficacy of the new drug after two months for which we will need more PCR machines,” he said.

Dr Kalim said the first PCR test was done to confirm the ailment, while the second was meant to see if the virus has been eliminated.

He said the new tablets were given to 12,000 registered patients free of charge.

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