Molecular testing is expected to become more of a routine clinical diagnostics
Primary healthcare needs to be strengthened and upgraded substantially to ensure early and timely interventions. By Sriram Natarajan, CEO, Founder and Director, Molbio Diagnostics
The years 2020 and 2021 were extraordinary and unprecedented and exposed our vulnerability and unpreparedness in dealing withpandemics of this scale, highlighted the cost of callousness in health practices and compliance and emphasised the importance and need for high-quality universal healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that in a large country like India, primary healthcare needs to be strengthened and upgraded substantially to ensure early and timely interventions. At the same time, healthcare services in these two years were completely skewed towards managing and fire fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The neglect of other diseases during this time is already showing by way of a steep increase in their prevalence such as TB, Hepatitis, H1N1, dengue and now Zika. In the case of TB there has been a significant erosion of the gains made during the past years.
The need for accurate diagnosis at the first point of patient contact, initiation of early and appropriate treatment and effective monitoring of disease burden to cut transmission and curtail spread are the lessons learnt.
Molecular diagnostics which was an underserved segment in the Indian diagnostics scenario for a very long time despite being the gold standard became the mainstay and the huge
demand has led to substantial capacity building of RTPCR testing in the country. The increasing prevalence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, coupled with tests for sexually transmitted diseases/ infections like HIV and HPV will propel the segment’s growth.
Molecular testing is expected to become more of a routine clinical diagnostics tool not only for covid but for a wide range of infectious diseases in 2022. While various public and private organisations are investing funds to accelerate R&D in the field of molecular diagnostics, the priority clearly is to bring all the stakeholders under one umbrella to focus on the gaps in the health system, identify the needs, create a road map for delivery and ensure quality and universal access.
Molbio has pioneered point of care molecular testing through its novel Truenat Real-Time PCR platform with the prime objective of decentralising and democratising access to this gold standard technology and enabling early and high-quality testing at the point of first patient contact. Looking at the growing global demand for point of care molecular testing, Molbio Diagnostics launched a new manufacturing facility in Goa in June 2021. The manufacturing capacity has been increased five-fold, from the existing 70,000 tests per day to over 3.5 Lakh tests per day that will ensure the uninterrupted availability of Truenat test kits both in the domestic and global markets for Covid and multiple diseases.
Truenat is already being viewed as a multi-disease platform and in 2022, in addition to the TB programme, we expect collaborations with other programmes such as the Viral Hepatitis programme, NACO and National Vector Borne Diseases Control programme to add to the wider deployment and usage of the technology at the grass root level.