SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The Indian health ministry has banned the serological test kits for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in India, which are blamed to give inconsistent and imprecise results, leading to wrong diagnosis and thereby risking human lives.
"The central government is satisfied that it is necessary and expedient to prohibit the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of the said test kits in public interest," said Arun Panda, joint secretary at the Indian health ministry in a notification issued this month.
Officials say safer alternatives are available for the diagnosis of TB.
Serology or blood-based tests are popular in the privately-run hospitals across India. Experts say around 150,000 TB serological tests are done in India despite strong evidence against such tests in detecting TB. Patients' annual spending on such tests is estimated at some 15 million U.S. dollars in India.
No government-owned hospital or health care center in the country uses serological tests to diagnose TB.
The ban comes almost a year after the World Health Organization issued an advisory to countries in July last year to stop conducting these tests for TB, for they give inaccurate results and can lead to misdiagnosis.
TB advocacy groups have welcomed the Indian government's move.
"It is a timely decision by the government," said Dr. Nalini Krishnan, executive secretary of Chennai based TB advocacy group REACH, who is working to create awareness about TB. "These tests are unnecessarily being prescribed and because of the wrong testing patients are not getting diagnosed properly."
India has the highest burden of TB in the world, accounting for approximately one fifth of the global incidence with an estimated 2 million cases annually.