News / Health

WHO Warns Against Use of Blood Tests for Active Tuberculosis

Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director, STOP TB Department of WHO, answers journalist's questions about new technologies that will help countries to accelerate their fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis, during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland (File
Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director, STOP TB Department of WHO, answers journalist's questions about new technologies that will help countries to accelerate their fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis, during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland (File
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization is calling on governments to ban the use of blood tests for active tuberculosis. It says these tests are harmful and can lead to death.  This is the first time the organization is publicly warning against a practice widely used in tuberculosis care. 

The World Health Organization warns the use of currently available commercial blood tests to diagnose active tuberculosis often leads to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health.  

The Director of the WHO Stop TB Department, Mario Raviglione, says 12 months of rigorous analysis of these blood tests shows they are dangerous and governments should end their use.

“There is overwhelming evidence that reveals that these blood tests are imprecise, they are inaccurate," said Raviglione. "So, we urge the doctors and all care givers that deal with tuberculosis to stop using the blood test immediately and instead diagnose active disease, using active TB, using those tests that we have been recommending over the past three or four years.”  

WHO recommends a new simple and rapid molecular test, which it endorsed at the end of last year. The test diagnoses regular TB as well as drug-resistant TB in 100 minutes. It costs about $16, which is considerably lower than the $30 price of a commercial blood test.  

WHO reports at least 18 of these commercial blood tests are available on the market.  Most are manufactured in Europe and North America, but are mainly used in developing countries, where tuberculosis is a huge problem.  

The blood test is sold in all regions of the world. It is most extensively used in India, but is also widely used in countries such as China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as in several African and East European countries.

WHO says more than one million of these inaccurate blood tests are carried out every year to diagnose active TB. Karin Weyer, the Coordinator TB Diagnostics and Laboratory Strengthening for the WHO Stop TB Department, says one out of two patients will receive a wrong diagnosis-either a false positive or a false negative.

“A false negative means that patients with TB receive a diagnosis that says they do not have TB, so they continue to transmit disease to others and they may die because their TB is not being treated," said Weyer. "With false positives, obviously, patients are put on unnecessary TB treatment while the underlying cause of the illness remains undiagnosed.”  

Dr. Weyer says the sale of these sub-standard tests is a multi-million dollar business.  She says manufacturers have a strong financial incentive to keep selling their dangerous product and often will resort to unethical practices to achieve this.  

The World Health Organization reports there are 9.4 million new active cases of TB a year. It estimates tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people every year, including 400,000 who are living with HIV. The U.N. health agency says improving the early and effective diagnosis of TB will save many lives.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid