RNA extraction kits worth 60 million gathering dust

Published On: February 26, 2021 10:48 AM NPT By: Ashim Neupane  | @ashimnep

The kits procured by the Nepal Army are expiring in September, but government doesn’t have a plan to use them  

KATHMANDU, Feb 26: The RNA extraction kits, worth millions of rupees, imported from China are gathering dust as they are incompatible with viral transport mediums (VTMs) used in laboratories across the country. 

In May last year, Nepal Army procured 28,000 RNA extraction kits from China under the government-to-government (G2G) model, however, the kits are still stored in laboratories and storages, and are yet to be used.

After the number of COVID-19 cases was increasing at an alarming rate, the government purchased these RNA extraction kits for PCR testing from China. The government had spent at least 60 million rupees to purchase these kits from China.

“A total of 13,648 kits have been sent to different laboratories. But all the kits are left unused as they were incompatible. Also, there are still 14,352 kits in the storage,” an official at the Department of Health Services told Republica, adding that these kits are expiring in September.

“The ministry has not been serious about finding a solution to use the kits. I think millions of rupees will go to waste as kits are expiring in September,” said the official, adding that there has been no demand for the kits from hospitals or laboratories. 

The Ministry of Health and Population had sent kits to several hospitals and laboratories, including the state-owned National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL). But after test reports came incorrect, the government directed to stop using the kits.

“The kits were incompatible as they required viral transport mediums (VTMs) of the same company for COVID-19 tests,” said Dr Runa Jha, director at the NPHL.

The RNA extraction kits imported from China are from the Sansure Biotech Company.

After the deal with the Omni Group was scrapped due to corruption allegations, the government allowed the Army to import medical equipment, including RNA extraction kits from China under the G2G model.

According to an official at Dhulikhel Hospital, the government had sent 2,000 RNA extraction kits to the hospital; however, the laboratory stopped testing samples using the kits as test results came incorrect. “We returned all the kits to the state-owned laboratory after the results came incorrect,” said the official, who did not like to be named. 

“Samples were collected in different VTMs, but for the RNA extraction kits procured from China, they need VTMs from the same company for testing. The country does not have VTMs of the same company, so the kits are not in use,” the official added.

The government has no plan to use the RNA extraction kits though they are expiring in September. Dr Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, said that the kits were unused as they were incompatible with VTMs being used in Nepal. 

“The government has no plans to use the kits as of now. To use the RNA extraction kits, we need to import VTMs compatible with it,” he added.





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