To strengthen the India’s response to COVID-19 pandemic, the government has decided to make the testing and treatment for COVID-19 available under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY). The testing and treatment of COVID -19 is already available for free in the public facilities. Now, more than 50 crore citizens, eligible under the central government’s health assurance scheme will be able to avail free testing through private labs and treatment for COVID -19 in empaneled hospitals.
According to officials, the empaneled hospitals can use their own authorized testing facilities or tie up with an authorized testing facility. These tests would be carried out as per the protocol set by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and by private labs approved by ICMR. Similarly, treatment of COVID-19 by private hospitals will be covered under AB-PMJAY.
“In this unprecedented crisis we have to very actively involve the private sector as a key partner and stakeholder in the fight against COVID-19. Making testing and treatment available under Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY will significantly expand our capacities by including private sector hospitals and labs and mitigate the adverse impact of this catastrophic illness on the poor,” said Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
This decision comes with the objective to increase the supply of testing and treatment facilities and increase access to them by roping in the private sector through AB-PM JAY scheme As per the ICMR guidelines for COVID-19 testing by private laboratories in India, the test is to be conducted by laboratory which has NABL accreditation for real time PCR assay for RNA virus. Laboratory test should be only offered when prescribed by a qualified physician for COVID-19 testing.
This decision will also help attract more private sector players for providing testing and treatment for COVID-19. Active private sector involvement will be critical in case there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 patient that need care. States are in the process of enlisting private sector hospitals that can be converted in to COVID-19 ONLY hospitals.