To ensure their availability during duty hours

Biometric attendance system for doctors at Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals will be introduced in the State in two to three weeks, Health Minister M.R.K. Paneerselvam said on Wednesday.

Addressing presspersons after launching a molecular diagnostic centre for H1N1 testing at the microbiology unit of the Madras Medical College, Mr. Paneerselvam said the measure was aimed at ensuring the availability of government doctors during duty hours.

Launching the Rs.38 lakh-PCR laboratory at MMC, the Minister said the government proposed to develop diagnostic infrastructure in government hospitals in a phased manner. The PCR laboratory was sanctioned at the height of the swine flu scare when the dearth of testing facilities was acutely felt.

Similar facilities had also been sanctioned at medical colleges in Madurai, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore at a total cost of Rs. 1.52 crore.

Mr. Paneerselvam also launched an e-library set up with Rs.9-lakh funding from the 1969 batch of the MMC. He presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the MMC's endocrine surgery unit and Bharat Scans for providing subsidised nuclear scans to patients.

Principal Secretary, Health, V. K. Subburaj, said government healthcare institutions were still weak in diagnostic facilities and dependent on referrals to private laboratories.

Director of Medical Education S. Vinayagam called for liberal alumni support for various upgrades at the college.

MMC Dean J. Mohanasundaram said the e-library facility would be expanded to accommodate more computer terminals.

G. Sumathi, Director, Institute of Microbiology, said the laboratory, which also had a biosafety cabinet and deep freezer, was equipped to diagnose swine flu, tuberculosis and hepatitis viruses.

S. Geethalakshmi, Head of Microbiology, said the laboratory would provide testing facilities for patients free of cost.

The Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society had made available an automated blood culture system and an immunofluorescent microscope. The microbiology laboratory also had acquired a Rs.5 lakh crossmatching facility for the cadaver organ transplantation programme.