As the country battles the pandemic with the death toll rising at a steady rate, there are questions being raised regarding the preparedness of the country even after measures to buy time and mount an effective response. COVID-19 has exposed the frailty of the healthcare system as well as ill-equipped healthcare policies, demanding a deeper delve into the same and implementing corrective measures. This paper attempts to analyse the hurdles surrounding the accreditation of medical laboratories and hospitals, the stringent but necessary norms mandated by accreditation bodies like NABL and NABH given the widespread mushrooming of illegal diagnostic labs across the country and the implementation of the Clinical Establishments Act by various States to help enforce minimum quality standards. During COVID-19, laboratories being the first line of defence have come under the scanner as they were woefully inadequate in number given the ICMR guidelines necessitating a one-on-one verification of the facilities. While the NABL and NABH guidelines are seen as the gold standard for accreditation, there is a need to revisit these guidelines to incorporate provisions that are resilient during public health emergencies as well.

CPPR Occasional Paper: COVID-19: Is it Time to Revisit NABH and NABL Guidelines? by Prianka G, Research Intern, CPPR-Centre for Comparative Studies.

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