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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.