Health Deptt designates state, district labs to fight hepatitis
In order to combat hepatitis, J&K is set to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program (NHVCP) as the Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department Monday constituted a state program steering committee for its implementation and designated referral labs for the screening of suspected cases.
An order issued by the health department stated that two state-level modal treatment centres will be setup at the department of microbiology at GMC Srinagar and GMC Jammu to provide comprehensive screening and treatment facilities.
For the two-state referral laboratories, the department issued guidelines that said that the labs will function with existing available resources for diagnosis of suspected cases.
“Testing of samples for viral hepatitis will be done as per prescribed guidelines for testing. Some state labs will be identified and their capacity will be strengthened to perform serological and nucleic acid tests (NAT),” said the order which also mentions norms for the labs.
As per the norms, the testing will be done of the samples received from the co-located treatment sites and other state and district labs.
It focuses on ensuring a referral mechanism to the treatment centre, storing of plasma for viral load NAT and develop panel used for evaluation purpose.
The order informed that the labs shall follow a common plan, standard operating procedure (SOPs) and reporting forms for carrying out the activity.
“Ensure that records pertaining to testing, equipment, manpower, facility etc are maintained. Ensure quality management systems in pre-analytic, analytic and post-analytic processes of testing,” read the guidelines.
It notified that labs will maintain a minimum performance standards for the laboratory to be functional at all times and participate in external quality assessment scheme (EQAS) mandated by CoE.
“State labs shall prepare IQC panel which will include weakly positive and negative controls. Shall monitor the IQC results regularly and levy-Jennings charts will be prepared and reviewed every month.”
The aim of the labs is to ensure that the samples for EQAS are sent to designated labs in proper packaging and controlled temperature as norms.
It has also designated six district laboratories at Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla, Kathua, Doda and Rajouri district hospitals to implement the NVHCP.
The terms and conditions for district labs include sample collection and serological testing under NHVCP, molecular testing where feasible, and sample transportation for molecular testing where it is necessary.
In another order on Monday, the health department has also constituted a state program steering committee for the implementation of the NVHCP.
“The committee shall monitor and provide guidance for the implementation of NVHCP in the state and will advice new interventions over the process of implementation. The committee will meet once in six months,” it said.
A health official said under the program they will enhance community awareness on hepatitis and stress on preventive measures among general population especially high-risk groups and in hotspots.
“It will provide early diagnosis and management of viral hepatitis at all levels of healthcare,” he said.
NVHCP is an integrated initiative by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3 aiming at ending viral hepatitis by 2030.
It aims to develop standard diagnostic and treatment protocols for the management of viral hepatitis and its complications.
Last year, south Kashmir’s Shopian district faced a major health crisis between March and July, as 420 persons were detected positive for hepatitis B and C after an assessment was conducted by the health authorities in 18 villages of Vehil area.