Chhattisgarh’s ‘Hamar Lab’ is a medical game-changer

Globally recognised organisations including the CDC, the Clinton Foundation, and domestic pharmaceutical and health care companies have sent their teams to visit the centres and study the concept, reports R Krishna Das.

The Chhattisgarh government’s “Hamar Lab”, an integrated health laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment, is becoming a model for the country.

The scheme was launched in February 2020.

Besides strengthening health services, it aims to give a sense of security to the people who need it most.

Hence, it has been named “Hamar Lab”, which means “our lab” in the Chhattisgarh dialect.

Priyanka Shukla, a doctor-turned-bureaucrat, is the brain behind the scheme, which many states are keen to follow.

Soon after joining the National Health Mission as director in February 2019, Shukla, who belongs to the 2009 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), observed the diagnostic centres at the state-run hospitals were not in a position to follow the prescribed health standards.

As against 120 tests, it could examine only 40.

Shukla, who practised in Lucknow and served people living in slums before joining the IAS, took up the task to reform the medical test laboratories in Chhattisgarh.

“I wanted to bring a sea change in the diagnostic centres in the state,” she said.

After the first “Hamar Lab” in the Raipur district hospital was opened in February 2020, the lockdown delayed expansion.

The project is now being expedited. As of now, the centre has been set up in nine district hospitals — in Durg, Balod, Balodabazar, Kanker, Kondagaon, Bastar, Sukma, Bijapur, and Balrampur — besides a community health centre each in Manpur, Patan, and Palari.

As against 18,000 tests per month, the “Hamar Labs” are conducting over 50,000, Shukla said.

The number is increasing as more and more centres are coming into the orbit of the plan, she said.

Many centres have kept the service free while others are charging normal rates.

The local hospital committee is authorised to set charges.

Besides quality testing, patients are getting investigation facilities at the same place.

While 120 tests are available at the “Hamar Lab” of the district hospitals, the community health centres are investigating 50. These include screening for diseases such as cancer and TB.

Globally recognised organisations including the CDC, the Clinton Foundation, and domestic pharmaceutical and health care companies have sent their teams to visit the centres and study the concept.

Recently, a team of doctors and officials from Rajasthan and Karnataka visited the “Hamar Lab”.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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