Health ministry orders regulation of online health service aggregators
New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Department (MoHFW) has recently directed all states and UTs to implement a time-bound action plan against the online health service aggregators who are operating illegally or in violation of the law and accordingly send a action taken report to the authority.
Last year in August, the the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi had directed the 'concerned authorities' to initiate action against any illegal online health service aggregators operating in Delhi in violation of the 'applicable laws', including the clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulations) Act, 2010, if applicable'. The case hearing which the HC had given its direction is still pending with the court.
The petition filed by Rohit Jain, a practicing pathologist by profession in Jaipur, through advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi sought a ban on the alleged collection of diagnostic samples by online health service aggregators for testing of COVID-19 infection, posing as "medical diagnostic laboratories". Further, the petition sought direction to issue guidelines for registration and minimum standards for sample collection centers operated by online aggregators.
Dr Jain in his petition further sought a ban on the illegal online health service aggregators which are not registered under Clinical Establishment (Registration & Regulation) Act 2010 or under any other regulations and are running without any medico legal liability for collecting and testing the patient samples for diagnosis.
It further claimed that a large number of unauthorized pathological labs are being run by under-qualified technicians who are providing totally unscientific diagnostic test reports rendering the lives of common and innocent citizens vulnerable.
The petitioner further alleged that many of the online health service aggregators are also not following the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 for proper disposal of bio-medical waste.
"The illegal and fake online health service aggregators are not registered with state pollution control board or any pollution control committee as prescribed under the law," the petition said further.
On the matter, the Delhi HC ordered the Centre and the Delhi government to act against the online health service aggregators who are operating illegally or in violation of the law and collecting diagnostic samples including Covid-19.
Now, emphasising on the seriousness of the whole issue, the health Ministry has issued a notification for all the concerned states and UTs to take immediate steps to curb this menace.
In the notification signed under the authority of Rajesh Bhushan, Department of Health and Family Welfare GOI, MOHFW, it is clearly stated:
"The Laboratories, and other clinical Establishments, providing any type of medical services, are required to be registered either under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulations) Act,2010 (in those States/UTs where it is applicable) or under the State Laws, as applicable. "
This Ministry had also notified in Gazette, the minimum standards for Laboratory Services
"Certain online health service aggregators, operational in various parts of the country may perhaps be neither providing any details of Laboratories, on behalf of which, they are providing services, nor their registration status, including compliance to minimum standards. The details of qualified staff, as required for running the laboratory services, may also not be available on their online portals," the notification further read.
If such instances are happening, then it is a matter of grave concern, as it affects the health and safety of citizens, who may obtain services from these online aggregators & may subsequently be aggrieved.
"Health being a State subject, and keeping in view the directions of the Hon'ble Court in the above said order, the Health Ministry had hence asked that a time-bound action plan may be made and implemented, as per the applicable laws, for regulating such online health service aggregators, and the related service providers. operational in your State/UT," the order stated
It has been further advised that the Department of Home of the concerned State may also be requested to investigate such matters. with an objective to prevent any kind of violation (civil or criminal/cyber or otherwise) of applicable laws.
The health minstry had further directed the concerned Chief Secretaries/Administrators of all States/UT s that an Action Taken Report may be sent to this Department on a priority basis
To view the official notification released by the Health Ministry, click on the following link: