Meghalaya: JSU opposes mandatory RAT testing in health centres

The JSU urged the state government to instead carry on with testing only of those showing symptoms at both public and private institutions.

The Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU) has opposed the directive of the Health and Family Welfare department that requires mandatory RAT testing of all patients at PHCs/CHCs and registered private clinics.

The JSU on June 24 submitted a letter to the Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department to oppose the directive from the Principal Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Health & Family Welfare to the respective Deputy Commissioners of all districts for direction to the District Medical & Health Officers of respective districts to mandatorily do RAT testing for all patients visiting such facilities.

The JSU cited that if health facilities are to practice such testing of all visiting patients, it will lead to most patients suffering from different ailments staying away from authentic healthcare providers thus preventing the detection and proper treatment of their diseases or any health complications.

“We fear they will be encouraged to look towards quacks and unregistered practitioners for their treatment which might lead to more serious consequences leading to more spread of the virus and mistreatment of their disease. Also, this will encourage the sale of medicines through black markets bought with no medical prescriptions,” the JSU stated. 

The union pointed out that if the government intends for testing in private clinics, it would also burden the patients 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.

Another hardship that private clinics have to face is the means for disposal of medical waste arising from testing kits, the union pointed out.

The JSU urged the state 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 union said that providing free testing it will cut down on medical expenses of those suffering from the COVID infection and help in detecting the virus. 

Regarding mass testing at village levels or localities, the JSU stated it should be carried out only to those with high-risk contacts and as for the public to be done voluntarily.

“We also agree that mass testing is the need of the hour for early detection and early treatment of the disease but should not be forced upon the citizens as it impinges on their right to privacy and their right to take self-decision,” said the JSU.

(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)

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