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ICMR releases India’s first National Essential Diagnostics List

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NEDL has been developed for all levels of healthcare –village level, primary, secondary and tertiary care

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently released India’s first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) which is a part of MoH&FW formulated guidelines for strengthening diagnostic services in the country. NEDL is an opportunity to build upon the existing initiatives of Free Diagnostics Service Initiative (FDI), Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) and National Health Programmes.

NEDL provides an expanded range of tests and complements these guidelines. Existing tests (In Vitro Diagnostics(IVD), radiology and others) have been reviewed and available basket of tests expanded based on inputs from experts. NEDL has been developed for all levels of healthcare –village level, primary, secondary and tertiary care. Tests for each level of care have been proposed based on the utility and requirement of test at that level, infrastructure, training available or proposed to be made available through other initiatives.

The list also encompasses tests relevant for new programmes such as Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. In addition to tests, corresponding IVD products have also been recommended.

The criteria for inclusion of tests in the NEDL: Following criteria have been used for including tests in the NEDL: Conditions with high disease burden/high public health relevance where diagnostics has a clear impact on the diagnosis and management of a disease: -Diseases with existing national programmes for diagnosis and management –maternal health complications, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria etc. -For priority conditions with weaker support programmes: NPCDCS (diabetes, hypertension, cancers, chronic kidney disease etc.). Tests that enable safe and rational use of EML medicines –For instance in case of HIV/AIDS -diagnosing the condition for which the medicine is indicated (Rapid card, ELISA, etc.), monitoring for medication efficacy (CD4 count, HIV RNA load assays) and monitoring for medication toxicity (liver function tests). Conditions prone to outbreaks/epidemics (dengue). Tests encompassing care pathways of diseases/conditions. Tests which are not mainstay of diagnosis but are critical supporting tests such as complete blood count (CBC) and C-reactive protein (CRP).

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