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Lab techs, docs claim antigen test shortage

Lab techs, docs claim antigen test shortage

25 May 2023 | BY Madusha Wickramasinghe

  • Health Min. denies claim  

Denying the claim by Government medical lab technologists and doctors on a shortage of dengue antigen tests in certain State hospitals, the Ministry of Health responded stating that currently there is no such shortage in any hospital.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (24), College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President Ravi Kumudesh claimed that the lack of facilities for testing, especially the lack of dengue antigen tests (NS1) and rapid antigen test kits, has created a situation where the health authorities are unable to ascertain the exact nature of the virus in patients, and that this has in turn affected many individuals. He further said: “Recently, Sri Lanka has been mainly affected by dengue, Covid-19, and influenza. Therefore, because of the lack of tests, we are unable to perceive the exact virus or disease within the patients. We only have the full blood count (FBC) test for dengue, so, the health authorities have to handle the dengue patients based entirely on this test. Consequently, dengue patients come in clusters to hospitals, and therefore, for the treatments for the patients to be successful, the hospitals need such tests sufficiently to do lab tests.”

When contacted by The Daily Morning yesterday, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Assistant Secretary Dr. Prabath Sugathadasa claimed that there is a slight shortage of dengue antigen tests in certain hospitals. “The dengue antigen test is done at the most important time for a patient, therefore, it is very important to perceive the exact virus or disease. There is a slight shortage in certain hospitals, and the prices of such tests have soared in certain private hospitals.” Furthermore, Dr Sugathadasa urged the Ministry to take action regarding the lack of medicines and tests.

In contrast to lab technologists and doctors, speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday, Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sri Chandraguptha said that there is no such shortage of dengue treatments at present. “There is no issue regarding dengue treatments, as all the relevant tests and medicines are available. Even though Kumudesh is the President of the CMLS, we can’t acknowledge such false statements.”

Accordingly, the CMLS has informed the Ministry regarding the lack of medical treatments and dengue antigen tests and rapid antigen kits to test for Covid-19.

Earlier, the CMLS queried that even though the Ministry has implemented dengue control programmes and conducted fumigation activities, the number of dengue cases has not decreased, and therefore called for the effectiveness of the said programmes to be checked and reviewed immediately.


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