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Latest technology helps improve TB diagnosis

Latest technology helps improve TB diagnosis

PESHAWAR: The health department has claimed that the use of new technology has ensured the prompt and correct tuberculosis diagnosis in the province.

According to the relevant officials, it was earlier difficult to diagnose TB patients correctly and therefore, the subsequent impropertreatment caused liver and kidney problems and hearing impairment.

They say the 26 GeneXpert machines procured by the health department have enabled the TB Control Programme to improve diagnostic services during the last one year and thus, leading to the accurate diagnosis.

Health dept procured 26 GeneXpert machines okayed by WHO

Project director of TB Control Programme Dr Maqsood Ali Khan told Dawn that the early detection of the disease was essential to initiate the immediate infection control measures and minimise the transmission of the disease to others as one patient if left untreated could infect 10-15 people a year.

He said the GeneXpert was a newly-developed machine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for nucleic acid amplification test, which detected the types of TB in two hours.

“We have been using these machines for TB screening in 26 centres in 20 districts of the province to ensure the early diagnosis and treatment of patients,” he said.

Dr Maqsood said the high workload districts installed more than one machineand there were a total of 21 machine installed with four modules and five machines installed with 16 modules.

The cost of four module machine was Rs3.5 m while the price of a 16-module machine was around Rs7.5 million.

Last year, a total of 13,745 tests were referred to 22 GeneXpert site in the province in order to diagnose tuberculosis and detect resistant TB.

Tuberculosis was detected in 5031 (36.5 per cent) cases in which 268 (5.3 per cent) patients were resistant to rifampicin drug.

This new technology machine has helped enormously to detect difficult to diagnose TB cases and also to ensure timely diagnose of Resistant TB cases, he said.

Health secretary Abid Majeed told Dawn that the department had launched comprehensive strategy to eradicate TB.

He said the government had allocated Rs275.7 million for two years (2017 to 2019) and passed a law under which 20 diseases, including TB, had been declared notifiable to enhance its detection rate.

“All patients undergo free testing and medication. We also give free food baskets to the patients and transportation charges to encourage treatment,” he said.

The secretary said the ‘treatment compliance rate’ was 95 per cent among those getting treatment for six months, while the treatment regime for defaulters was eight months long.

“We have strictly banned the sale of over-the-counter anti-TB drugs to control multidrug resistant TB, which is difficult to cure. We are currently providing free treatment to 45,000 patients under the WHO’s directly-observed treatment short course,” he said.

Mr Abid said the high-quality fixed drug combination was benefiting the patients.

He said the specially trained human resource had been deployed at all centres to operate new machines.

The secretary said besides the diagnostic and treatment services, the department had also focused its attention on advocacy, communication and social mobilisation to end perceptions like TB wasn’t curable; it spread via handshake; it’s transmittable genetically or by sharing meal; patients required hospitalisation, and anti-TB medicines were of low quality or it caused infertility.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2018

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