HYDERABAD: The Covid-19 epidemic has exposed a major aspect of poor health infrastructure in Telangana. As TNIE finds out, a major reason why the State has not been able to conduct as many tests as its neighbours is because Telangana has only 21 TrueNAT machines. Of these 21, seven were ordered by the State government just about three weeks ago, much after Covid-19 epidemic hit the State.
Why does having a meagre number of TrueNAT machines means less testing? One TrueNAT machine can test around 40 samples in a span of eight hours. If the machine is run in three shifts with little breaks in between, it can help test at least 100 samples in a day. Imagine having hundreds of these machines running 24 hours for days together. This is what Andhra Pradesh is doing and hence able to test more than 5 lakh samples till now when Telangana could not test even 10 per cent of this number.
This has been possible because Andhra Pradesh is in possession of around 340 TrueNAT machines, whereas Telangana has only 21 machines.As per the latest list of Covid-19 testing labs by ICMR, while AP has 42 TrueNAT labs, Telangana has only one, that too private.
This exposes poor spending on health by Telangana TNIE contacted Molbio Diagnostics, the company which manufactures the TrueNAT machines. The company officials said that Telangana had just 14 TrueNAT machines before the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, provided to it by the Central government. Whereas post-epidemic, the State bothered to add just seven more. Usage of these seven has not started yet. Compared to this, AP had as many as 225 TrueNAT machines at even Primary Health Centres, even before start of the Covid-19 epidemic, as these machines help in testing Tuberculosis samples. On top of this, the State bought 90 more machines after the need for testing arose in the State and following this, it has ordered 125 more machines.Each machine costs around Rs 13 lakh. This means, while AP took up the responsibility of shelling about Rs 28 crore for ramping up tests, Telangana bothered to spend less than Rs 1 crore for the purpose.
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