Pri­mary health cen­tres in city to start anti­gen test­ing

Tests to be con­ducted on symp­to­matic and high-risk pa­tients; 100 kits dis­trib­uted to each of the 19 cen­tres in Ggm

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - Ar­chana Mishra ar­chana.mishra@hin­dus­tan­

GU­RU­GRAM: In or­der to ramp up the test­ing ca­pac­ity, the dis­trict health de­part­ment has de­cided to al­low rapid anti­gen de­tec­tion tests for Covid-19 in all the 19 ur­ban pri­mary health cen­tres (UPHCs) in the city, start­ing Wed­nes­day.

Ear­lier this month, the pri­mary health cen­tres were also al­lowed to col­lect sam­ples for the re­verse tran­scrip­tion-poly­merase chain re­ac­tion(RT-PCR) tests at the lo­cal level and trans­port these sam­ples to the gov­ern­ment lab at the Civil Hos­pi­tal, Sec­tor 10.

The de­ci­sion to al­low UPHCs to con­duct both anti­gen and RT-PCR tests is a part of the on­go­ing ef­forts to im­prove the health in­fra­struc­ture in the city by strength­en­ing the pri­mary health cen­tres, said of­fi­cials.

Ex­perts wel­comed the move, by say­ing that strength­en­ing UPHCs for Covid-19 sam­ple col­lec­tion and test­ing would help in the early de­tec­tion of sus­pected cases that would pre­vent mor­tal­ity and help in spread­ing public aware­ness of the dis­ease.

Thedis­tricthealt­hde­part­ment has con­ducted 48,774 anti­gen de­tec­tion tests so far, out of which 1,345 have tested pos­i­tive. Among those tested nega­tive, 4,891 sam­ples were taken for the con­fir­ma­tory RT-PCR test, of which 550 were con­firmed to be Covid-19 pos­i­tive.

The rapid anti­gen de­tec­tion tests that be­gan in the city on June 24, is mainly be­ing con­ducted in the con­tain­ment zones and the large out­break re­gions (LORs) of the city.

“Apart from con­duct­ing tests in camps, the UPHCs will now have the fa­cil­ity to con­duct the rapid anti­gen tests. Ear­lier, UPHCs were only per­mit­ted to col­lect sam­ples for RT-PCR from 9am to 2pm daily for res­i­dents who are sus­pi­cious of the SARSCoV-2 virus symp­toms and want to get tested with­out any has­sle. Anti­gen tests will now be al­lowed in all the 19 UPHCs dur­ing the same time slot,” said Dr Viren­der Yadav, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer (CMO), Gu­ru­gram.

For this, the health de­part­ment has dis­trib­uted 100 kits to each UPHC. “These kits will be used only for symp­to­matic pa­tients and high-risk con­tacts of an al­ready con­firmed case. Those get­ting tested for anti­gen de­tec­tion will have to show proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion,” said Yadav. To test high-risk con­tacts of con­firmed Covid-19 pa­tients, teams at the UPHCs will use their re­spec­tive data bases of all con­firmed cases.

“The Rapid Re­sponse Team (RRT) at the lo­cal level are aware of the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity. They are work­ing with a pop­u­la­tion size of 1,000 to 2,000, which helps them in trac­ing the high­risk con­tacts. Based on their know- how about the com­mu­nity, these kits will be utilised,” said Dr Jai Prakash Sharma, dis­trict surveil­lance of­fi­cer.

All the UPHCs are re­quired to up­date on a daily ba­sis the list of peo­ple in their ar­eas whose sam­ples are be­ing col­lected for the RT-PCR test, their con­tacts, and those who are be­ing tested pos­i­tive.


Ex­perts are of the opin­ion that pri­mary health cen­tres are crit­i­cal in han­dling in­fec­tious dis­eases as they are the first point of care for peo­ple.

The func­tion­ing of such pri­mary health cen­tres was ear­lier re­stricted to only a few ar­eas of health­care, namely an­te­na­tal care, child birth, neona­tal and in­fant health­care, child­hood and ado­les­cent health­care, fam­ily plan­ning, us­age of con­tra­cep­tives and other ar­eas of re­pro­duc­tive health..

The 2017 Na­tional Health Pol­icy rec­om­mended es­tab­lish­ment of PHCs as health and well­ness cen­tres. The range of ser­vices were ex­panded to in­clude man­age­ment of in­fec­tious, com­mu­ni­ca­ble and non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases along with care for the el­derly, pal­lia­tive health care, and men­tal health is­sues.

Dr K Sri­nath Reddy, pres­i­dent, Public Health Foun­da­tion of In­dia ( PHFI) said, “In an epi­demic, PHCs have a crit­i­cal role to play. Nearly 80% of the in­fec­tions can be ad­dressed at the PHC-level, where based on the screen­ing alone, early di­ag­no­sis of the pa­tient can be done. Early de­tec­tion, test­ing and surveil­lance are pos­si­ble at the lo­cal level. Al­though RT-PCR is the gold stan­dard for front­line test­ing for Covid-19, ar­range­ments for anti­gen test­ing at pri­mary would help in iden­ti­fy­ing a higher num­ber of high-risk cases.”

Call­ing it a pos­i­tive move, K Su­jatha Rao, for­mer sec­re­tary, union min­istry of health and fam­ily wel­fare, who is also the for­mer di­rec­tor gen­eral, Na­tional AIDS Con­trol Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NACO) said, “Dur­ing the time, when HIV was widely preva­lent in the coun­try, HIV-ELISA (Enzyme Linked Im­munosor­bent As­say) test was be­ing con­ducted at the PHC level to iden­tify pa­tients. Di­ag­no­sis at the pri­mary level helps in pre­vent­ing mor­bid­ity and mor­tal­ity.”

Ac­cord­ing to Rao, for Covid-19 anti­gen test­ing, the team at the lo­cal level should to be care­ful of false neg­a­tives as anti­gen tests have a higher per­cent­age of false neg­a­tives. “If 100 peo­ple are tested for anti­gen and 70 are nega­tive, then it is im­por­tant to fig­ure out how many should be tested for RT-PCR. This is be­cause, there are chances of miss­ing out an in­fected per­son,” said Rao.

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