India's largest domestic medical technology company Trivitron is aiming to popularize cost-effective screening diagnostics for newborn babies in India.
Newborn baby screening, a mandatory testing in most developed countries, is required to detect certain irreversible metabolic and congenital disorders that are curable if detected within a month of birth. The screening helps to mitigate the risk of irreversible damages like developmental delays with potential fatalities, physical disability, blindness, and mental retardation.
A drop of blood is taken from the heel of the newborn and is tested to screen for more than 60 disorders. The test costs about $1,000 (about Rs 62,000) per baby in the West.
"We will make available the kit and diagnostics in India at a fraction of the cost and are discussing with various state governments to make available these tests at all district government hospitals initially at subsidised rates," G.S.K. Velu, Founder and Managing Director of Trivitron, told Business Today.
Two years ago Chennai-based Trivitron had acquired Finland-based Ani Labsystems and its group companies, the second-largest global manufacturer of neonatal screening and related diagnostics kits, for about $22.2 million. Trivitron has set up a manufacturing facility in Chennai for these products at its 25-acre medical park.
Affordable treatment for about 45 such disorders is not available in India and Trivitron is looking at offering basic screening for a few diseases, said Velu.
Out of 26 million babies born every year in India, less than two per cent receive neonatal screening. A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research says congenital hypothyroidism (enlarged face and head) affects one in 1,172 newborn babies in India. Globally, the rate is only one in 3,800 newborn babies, said Velu.