The Problem with the Rs 90 CBC


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There is a major Dengue fever outbreak in the city of Lahore. Several thousand patients have been documented, and many more have gone undiagnosed. In addition, there is a general sense of paranoia about this illness.

One of the important aspects in the care of Dengue fever patients is the establishment of the diagnosis. Since a large number of patients are non-affording, it is important to make arrangements to make these diagnostic facilities accessible to all. However, it must also be ensured that the diagnostic facilities and resources are not wasted.

One of the recent measures was the notification that set the rate for CBC at Rs 90. In spirit this is a good move as it allows all segments of society to get tested, but there has been an unexpected consequence. A large number of people have started getting their CBC test done simply because it is so cheap! Diagnostic facilities which were already working at full capacity are now faced with another tidal wave of blood samples. As a result, the following things are happening or are bound to happen:

  1. Because of the rush of ‘normal’ patients seeking to get their test done, the actual Dengue patients are being overlooked.
  2. As the workload increases beyond the capacity of the diagnostic facilities, the reporting time for the crucial CBC test is rising. Already the reporting time at most facilities has grown to more than 12 hours.
  3. In the rush to test these thousands of CBC samples, patients who do not have Dengue fever but other illnesses such as malaria or leukemia are likely to be overlooked or ignored.
  4. There is a finite supply of reagent needed to perform the CBC test. At current rates we are consuming the reagent far quicker than it can be imported. Heaven forbid if labs start to run out of the reagents needed to perform the CBC test. Then we will have taken a crisis and made it worse.

In this time of crisis, it is very important that collaborative and streamlined efforts are made by all those involved in caring for Dengue fever patients. We must focus our attention on actual Dengue fever patients instead of trying to cater to everyone who desires a CBC test. We must remember that not every patient with fever has Dengue fever. And we must all work together to educate the public about this illness.

6 thoughts on “The Problem with the Rs 90 CBC

  1. JG

    I have gone through ur article but sad to know that you are still stucked in Rs. 90/- …… If you think its too low to pay so people are getting mad to have thier CBCs. I think you should realize the situation. Our patients r less literate and less guided if we compare them with foriegn patients. They dont have any idea what they are caught by… So finally they take many doses of Panadol, Calpol, Paderol, Parecetamol etc etc and after they failed to cure…. they decide to visit their nearest clinic according to their eassiness. These doctors are suggesting whole CBCs….. All Patients are not aware of it but some. So I think you should guide all doctors first to suggest complete Blood test if required. Other wise just suggest plateletcount….. hope u ll consider.


    A patient

  2. Anjum M

    yes, agree with Dr Omar, but the unlucky our govt always create lot of problems and hurdle to remove problem. we are always lake of planning and its long lasting impact on other issues which are relate to the matter.

    any how these are ground realities and we have to survive. but i salute to you and your team that you are doing your best.

    keep it up.

  3. Andaleeb Gilani

    Wonderful and fantastic! That’s the way how it should’ve been communicated and evry one must try 2 undrstnd the need and call of the day!

  4. Fatima Najeeb

    If i understand correctly, it implies that expensive tests would reduce the number of people opting for CBC. And the labs would then be able to work more efficiently.

    To some, the solution provided, may appear to be a practical and logical approach to the issue while to some, including myself, it just doesn’t seem to be the proper and right way to do it.

    Denying the option of CBC to the common poor people on account of non-affordability does not appear humane to me. It would certainly facilitate and advantage the fortunate one’s, which by no means should be a priority in prevalent crucial times.

    I, as much as anyone else, would like that something is done soon enough to resolve the issue. But i appeal to every member of the medical community that conscience and humanity must at all times prevail.

    We appreciate the good work being done but we need more, from everyone.

    God bless.

  5. Omar Post author

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Fatima, I don’t mean to say that expensive tests should be available to only those who can afford to pay. We have already done free tests for more than 8000 people.

    I am merely pointing out that there are thousands of people getting the test done unnecessarily. In some circles it has become a ‘shughal’ thing to do. These tests are placing an extra burden on an already overstretched system.


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