Letters to the Editor
Request for Upgradation of State Referral BSL-3 Lab at NHAK
The Principal Secretary
Department of Health & Family Welfare
Government of Nagaland
In Re: Open Representation for Immediate Purchase of a Sequencer Machine to Upgrade the State Referral BSL 3 Lab at Naga Hospital Kohima.
Most respectfully, this is to state that the Kezekevi Thehou Ba (KTB) HQ; Kohima in its meeting has resolved to approach the concerned Dept. for immediate purchase of a Sequencer Machine and Next Generation Sequencing Machine. Our Nagaland State is in dire need of a Sequencer Machine to upgrade the Bio Safety Level 3 Laboratory (BSL 3 Lab) at Naga Hospital Kohima. A Sequencer Machine is imperative to detect omicron or any other Covid-19 variants and effectively contain them immediately to stop or reduce the load of community transmission which has begun in the country. Your honour is aware of the possibility of various variants being introduced to our State. Omicron is known to have been more infectious with its spreads much quicker so much so that it is imperative to detect the virus strain at the earliest possible stage to contain it adequately and properly.
It is learnt that the extracted suspected omicron samples from Nagaland were initially being sent to Dibrugarh ICMR Assam and National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani West Bengal, which takes more than 30 days, and in such delay, there is every possibility of sample being damaged while in transit or in the waiting period. Therefore, the samples are currently being sent to the Institute of Bio-Resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal Manipur. However, this also has been known to encounter inordinate delays, and understandably so as the State of Manipur has to cater to its own test loads. As a result for not having the Sequencer Machine, our Health care Department is incapable of detecting omicron and other possible variants that ought to be detected and contained at the earliest. It is reported that the Sequencer Machine will cost around INR 2 to 3 crore which our State Health Department has still not been able to own and therefore had to rely on other neighbouring States.
It is a known fact that Nagaland is the only state without a medical college, and at the prevailing rate of corruption, we may not see a medical college commissioned and functioning in Nagaland anytime soon. However, even if we do not have a medical college yet, it is not an excuse why we should not be capable of purchasing a Sequencer machine to upgrade the BSL 3 Lab, so that the State can be self-reliant for sequencing of Covid-19 variants. Such a machine is known to have various other important and crucial applications in the identification and management of many other complicated diseases including various types of cancers. It needs no telling how a lot of our state resources and finances have been spent in other states for diagnostics and treatment due to lack of requisite infrastructure within our own state.
Many biopsy samples in the past were reportedly being sent out of the State for investigations but because it usually takes 10-15 days, samples do get damaged in transit or reports too delayed for timely treatment. When all the necessary housing infrastructures are already being constructed and furnished BSL-3 lab installation which are scientifically and medically approved, and also have the technical competency and manpower, adding a Sequencer Machine will only aid the health department to serve the people better and improving diagnostic capability of the health department, thus saving a lot of financial loss both at the Government and the individual level, not to talk of the logistic difficulties and expenses of seeking it elsewhere outside of the state. The upgradation of the BSL-3 with Sequencer Machine will also go a long way to develop and help our research scientists to identify and diagnose different types of cancers for treatment, of which we are said to be the cancer capital of the world. We also need a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Machine too, to upgrade BSL 3 Lab which would cost us less than INR 1, 60, 00, 000/=( one crore sixty lacs).
It may be pertinent to mention here that since Mr. RN Ravi, the then Governor of Nagaland is no more in Nagaland, we cannot expect him to procure the needed Sequencer at this juncture in the same manner as he did for BSL 3 Lab for Kohima and BSL 2 Lab for Dimapur in a magnanimous and miraculous way at the eleventh hour of the need of the State. We ought to ask ourselves where do we stand? It is a pity that our Ministers, Secretaries, Directors and other dignitaries slumber in their comfort zone with all their facilities when they are in power in office, but when they are retired and get sick with serious ailments or suffers from cancer, they would run from pillar to post for medical help outside the State as there are practically no proper infrastructure in Nagaland. In the process, huge resources are poured outside the State. However, ordinary citizens who cannot afford such expensive treatment often perishes for want of requisite facilities within the state. Our State continues to exist without adequate, competent infrastructures and equipment which is a matter of serious concern of the day.
It is therefore earnestly prayed that Sequencer Machine and Next Generation Sequencing Machine be procured at the earliest within 30 days wef. 18th January 2022 for the health interest and security of the public of Nagaland.
Robert N Solo
For and on behalf of
Kezekevi Thehou Ba (KTB) HQ; Kohima