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Health checks Zika test quality

Published: Monday, 13 June 2016 18:31 | Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 December 2016 15:28

To be incorporated into the SUS, the product developed by BahiaFarma must be approved by the National Quality Control Institute

To be incorporated into the SUS, the product developed by BahiaFarma must be approved by the National Quality Control Institute

The quick test to diagnosis the Zika virus developed by BahiaFarma will undergo a quality assessment. All diagnostic tests provided by the public health network must be approved by the National Quality Control Institute (INCQS). Only after this analysis can the product be incorporated into the SUS (Unified Health System). This Monday (13), the public laboratory presented a new technology to the Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros, during his visit to Salvador, in the state of Bahia.

The test from the Bahian Foundation for Scientific Research and Technological Development (BahiaFarma) enables the identification of antibodies in the bloodstream (IgM technique) and is also able to check whether a person has already been infected with Zika at some previous point in time (IgG technique). The product developed by the public laboratory, which is linked to the Department of Health of Bahia, has already been registered by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and can be sold within the private hospital network.

If it passes quality control, the test will be analyzed by a specific committee from the Ministry of Health, equipped to assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-benefit of the products, thereby ensuring the best choices for the public health system and protection of the population.

The Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros, stressed the importance of developing new technologies that directly benefit the population. "This test provides quick results that inform whether the person has been infected by Zika in the past, thus giving them immunity. Once the quality of the test is confirmed, we will be able to start negotiating amounts and prices ​​in order to consolidate this kit for our public health system," concluded Barros.

PUBLIC HEALTH NETWORK – The test currently available in the SUS for diagnosis of the Zika virus uses the PCR technique (molecular biology), which only detects the disease in the acute phase, when the patient still has symptoms. This technology is the only one available at present which does not give false diagnoses. Other tests that may detect Zika even without symptoms, which are serological tests, are not 100% effective. Those that are available on the market can test positive if the person has been infected with dengue before.

In February this year, the Ministry of Health distributed 250,000 PCR tests for public health laboratories and reference laboratories. Another 250,000 units are ready to be sent out, according to the demands of laboratories. It is important to clarify that testing is not necessary to start treating the disease, since drugs are prescribed according to the symptoms of each patient. In total, the Ministry of Health has invested BRL 6 million in PCR test purchases.

VISIT TO HEALTH UNITS – In Salvador (BA), Minister of Health Ricardo Barros visited the facilities and work performed at Obras Sociais Irmã Dulce (philanthropic institution), especially early stimulation of babies with microcephaly. The Specialized Center for Rehabilitation (CER IV), in addition to caring for patients with different types of physical, intellectual, auditory and visual impairments, has a Children's Rehabilitation Center for babies with microcephaly. Currently, 150 babies with microcephaly receive care – 110 in pediatric neurology and 40 in early stimulation.

The new wing of the ICU of Santo Antônio Hospital, which only serves the SUS and has more than 1,000 beds, was also presented to the minister. The managers of the unit explained that by the end of June, 10 new adult ICU beds will go into operation, resulting in a total of 20 ICU beds in the unit, doubling the capacity for critical patient care. There are also another 10 pediatric ICU beds. The sector was built with resources from the hospital itself and from the Government of Bahia. "I want to congratulate the team. This is truly a hospital that provides an example of exemplary management which we want to replicate throughout the country," said Ricardo Barros.

During his Salvador visit, the health minister also attended a lecture at the Medical Association of Bahia (ABM), with around 160 directors and presidents of hospitals from the region, entitled "Outlook for Public Health in Brazil".

Camila Bogaz and Fábio Ruas, from Agência Saúde

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