The medical laboratories in Pakistan have earned much negativity and defamed recently due to the high fees they charge for tests.
In Pakistan, the number of patients is increasing rapidly and medical facilities are limited to them. The private medical laboratories make the most of the situation and they exploit the people by charging ridiculously high fees.
There are many levels and standards of laboratories. Some laboratories charge rupees 200 to test the HB level in blood. In the same city, there would be another laboratory charging rupees 400 for the same test. The third level laboratory which may be a famous brand, charge rupees 800 and the same is the case with different tests.
Once this question was raised with the staff of laboratory the charges of which were the lowest “Why did labs have different test charges?” The answer was “This is the era of brands. For the same test you come here and we charge rupees 200 and if you go to some branded laboratory you will lose the last penny from your pocket and still, the result of the test would be the same”.
Laboratories are the vital part healthcare system and they play an important role in the diagnosis of a disease and provide enough insight to the doctor to start the recovery of the disease. They do Xrays, MRIs, Ct Scans and many other vital tests. But, neither the standard nor the fee level of laboratories is being looked at. There are cases when laboratories are unhygienic or proper staff is not available. They end up giving wrong results or give the result of some other patient. The worst part is that no laboratory in Pakistan has been penalized for the malpractices. No government official from the health department may like to visit the laboratories to check their authenticity, license, the qualification of the staff working there, the level of sanitation and the level of the fees being charged. It seems that laboratories are working fearlessly and these are determined to continue their malpractices, keeping in view the full belief that the government has no program or time to check their activities and high charges.
This is how mismanaged the system is, where one “rairhi vala” will charge you rupees 50 for one kg of tomatoes. A few yards ahead another will charge rupees 70 for the same. This is how people get exploited. Substandard food, chemical sprayed vegetables, chemical ripened fruits and imported GMO wheat are a few reasons behind the deterioration of the health standard of Pakistan and ultimately the reason behind the increased number of deaths. Unfortunately, when doctors prescribe tests for diagnosis of disease, the medical laboratories charging very high fees, and many of the time the test results are even wrong.
Human health is the most important part of the mandate of the government. The government should be extra careful over it but it seems that the whole health department is being neglected; from lack of specialist doctors, incompetence of MBBS doctors and private hospitals and medical laboratories charging a high fee.
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