A breakthrough new rapid diagnostic test for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is being rolled out by the department of health, health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang today announced at the South African TB conference in Durban.
"We will now be able to diagnose drug resistant TB in seven days compared to several weeks or months using our current method," Tshabalala-Msimang said.
The announcement follows the results of a study that showed the new DNA-based test to be effective in developing countries with a high disease burden.
The test is already available in four provinces and will be rolled out to the rest of the country over the coming months.
"Successful treatment and prevention of mdr-TB has been undermined by conventional drug susceptibility testing, that is prone to difficulties and takes a long time before a diagnosis can be made," Tshabalala-Msimang said.
"Using existing technology for the diagnosis of drug resistant TB can take up to four months during which time a patient remains highly infectious and often in a community, thus also spreading this form of TB to others," she said.
Despite the good news though, Tshabalala-Msimang pointed out that many obstacles remain in the fight against tuberculosis. "We desperately need new diagnostic tools for regular TB, as well as new drugs for both TB and drug resistant TB," she said. – (Health24)
New TB test to hit Africa
July , 2008