Posts Tagged ‘Serological tests’

90-minute TB test not a game changer for India

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment


New Delhi : A new diagnostic technique that detects tuberculosis in 90 minutes instead of three months using the conventional method may not be effective in India as the heat and humidity would affect the equipment, experts said.

TB kills two people every three minutes in India, accounting for over three million (30 lakh) deaths a year.

The diagnostic technique, Gene Xpert MTB/RIF, was launched in the US in 2007 and is supported by the World Health Organisation. It was launched in India last year.

However, a health ministry official said the technique may not be a game changer in India due to the staggering burden of tuberculosis the country is currently facing.

The technique enables rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis, multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and TB in HIV-infected individuals in a span of 90 minutes compared to the conventional test.

“The technique cannot be used for routine testing. We have pilot projects at 18 sites going on to test its feasibility in the Indian situation where the climate and temperature conditions are different from the western countries,” said Ashok Kumar, deputy director general of the central TB control division under the ministry of health and family welfare, at a conference by Stop TB partnership.

When the technique was launched September 2010, health experts pinned their hopes on the test promising a quicker diagnosis of Multi-Drug Resistant TB by looking for bacterial DNA in a person’s sputum.

“The pilot projects are in consultation with the WHO. The idea is to take the test near to the districts and remote areas where the conditions under which TB originates could be different,” Kumar explained.

According to experts, high humidity and high temperature may affect the equipment and cartridges used in the test. Invariable temperature can also lead to inconsistency in the results.

“Solid culture/sputum testing remains the golden standard for Indian conditions. Xpert test can be used for HIV positive patients, but not in routine testing,” Kumar said.

According to officials from the TB control division in the health ministry, the cost would be incurred by the ministry. The test costs around Rs.900 ($20) per sputum sample.

Blessi Kumar, a TB prevention activist and vice chairperson of Stop TB partnership coordinating board, said thought should be given to the technique to make it effective.

“The Indian research community and pharma industry should take on the task of going deeper into the 90-minute test. It can be a scientific advancement or a stepping stone that India needs to reduce TB cases,” Kumar said.


WHO bans blood tests for active TB

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment
By Editor

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked to prohibit the prevalent use of blood tests to diagnose active tuberculosis stating that such tests are unreliable, and could lead to incorrect diagnoses, and put millions of lives at risk. Ever since doctors in Manipur decided to go in for multiple medical tests to analyse medical problems all hell has broken loose for impoverished patients. Asking for multiple tests by doctors it seems could well be a fig leaf to cover their wariness to make a diagnosis. Some people say the greater the incompetence of the doctors, the more tests they seek. This has become a caricature of medical help care, as delineated by some of our doctors.

Now that we have come to know from the WHO that blood tests on TB patients may be harmful and life ruiners  and definitely not desirable, one needs to tell our doctors of their duties to perform with cognizance of the WHO findings. Two things come to mind regarding medical treatment. Funds and financing are always a big handicap. The second point is that our doctors are, as we suspect, callous in their judgement of their patients’ ailments.

The important message to the TB patients in the state is that they should no longer agree to go for blood tests to determine whether they are afflicted with TB or not. To go a bit further into understanding the erstwhile practices on TB patients, we should know what has been the real eco-political drive behind this blatantly bogus insistence to go in for serological tests burdened upon TB patients? The WHO report says “mainly Western test kit manufacturers misled their customers in developing countries with unfounded claims about their worth and used perverse financial incentives to boost sales.”

The WHO report is a true eye opener, many people in the state will now realize the futility of the path they had undertaken to be cured or made whole after having had treatment, following blood tests. And a question to our brethren in the medical profession, how are you going to explain your fondness for serological tests for TB patients ? Are you going to explain your stand by saying you had been just following what you were taught ? In which case you are not keeping abreast with the latest medical advances. On the other hand, if you had been playing around to make a quick buck, you might as well leave your profession, that act in itself will create a huge sigh of relief to the people.

Sources:- Hueiyen Lanpao

TB battle: States told to follow WHO guidelines

The Union Health Ministry has asked all state tuberculosis (TB) officers to endorse the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), urging countries to ban “unapproved” blood tests to diagnose the disease.

In a letter to the officers, consultants and senior regional directors, the Deputy Director General, head, Central TB Division, Dr Ashok Kumar, has asked them to “disseminate this message to all stakeholders involved in TB control in India”. According to the WHO, the use of currently available commercial blood (serological) tests to diagnose active TB often leads to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health.

The WHO has, therefore, urged countries to ban the inaccurate and unapproved blood tests and instead rely on accurate “microbiological or molecular tests”.

The new recommendation comes after 12 months of rigorous analysis of evidence by WHO and global experts. “Overwhelming evidence showed that the blood tests produced an unacceptable level of wrong results — false-positives or false-negatives,” it said.

According to Dr Kumar, the serological tests continue to be used extensively specially in the private health sector.

Source:- The Indian Express