News / Health

New, Rapid Tuberculosis Test Revolutionizes Care

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization is endorsing a new, rapid test for tuberculosis that it says could revolutionize TB care with an accurate diagnosis in about 100 minutes. The current tests can take up to three months to show results.

The World Health Organization calls this new test a major milestone for global TB diagnosis and care. WHO's Stop TB Department Director Mario Raviglione says the test represents new hope for the millions of people who are at the highest risk of TB and multi-drug resistant TB.

"This is a development in a way that the world has been waiting for, for decades," Raviglione said. "As a matter of fact it is probably the most revolutionary thing we have seen in our lifetime in TB control. Certainly in the past 20 to 30 years there is nothing like that."  

This so-called "while-you-wait" test incorporates modern DNA technology. The sputum of the patient is put in a cartridge, which is placed inside an instrument that looks like a boxy coffee machine.

The co-developer of the test, the Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics says the test is fully automated, so it is easy and safe to use. It says the test does not need to be done by specially trained laboratory technicians nor does have to be sent to a laboratory to be diagnosed.

The Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics says the machine and cartridge in developing countries costs about $17,000. One test costs under $17.00. This, it says is a 75-percent reduction in the price for countries most affected by TB, compared to the current market price.

The World Health Organization says for the first time, the test will be introduced in developing countries and rich countries at the same time. WHO Stop TB Department Diagnostic Coordinator Karin Weyer says some countries in Africa already have started using the test.

"What we have seen, for example, in countries like South Africa that have started using the test was that patients who normally would have to wait three, four months for the conventional test results to return before they start treatment, were able to start treatment within two days," said Weyer. "And, in a high-HIV setting like South Africa this obviously also has the benefit of preventing early mortality in those patients because they are able to access appropriate treatment as quickly as possible."  

Dr. Weyer says the plan is to scale this up in other countries in Africa, such as Lesotho, Ethiopia, Swaziland, and Uganda. She says eventually the machine will be distributed to 27 high-TB countries throughout the world.

Major improvements in tuberculosis care and control have been made. Nevertheless, WHO reports TB killed an estimated 1.7-million people in 2009 and 9.4-million people developed active TB last year.

WHO says TB is a curable disease if the patient begins treatment early. It says the new, rapid TB test is a major breakthrough, one that might eliminate TB as a political and public health problem in the future.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs