First-ever Standard on Universal Access to Rapid Tuberculosis Diagnostics is published by WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time published the standard on Universal Access to Rapid Tuberculosis Diagnostics. As per the standard, access to WHO-recommended quick diagnostics (WRDs) for tuberculosis should be ubiquitous, and there should be criteria set for increasing bacteriologically confirmed cases of the disease, identifying treatment resistance, and speeding up diagnosis times. Rapid diagnostics are extremely accurate, affordable, hasten the start of treatment, and have an impact on outcomes that are crucial for patients.

Although the WHO’s End TB Strategy calls for all notified TB patients to undergo a WRD as their initial test by 2025, in 2021, only 38% of patients underwent a WRD as their initial test, and access to diagnostics was noted as a major underlying problem. The wide gap in finding resistance to anti-TB medic inadequate use of WRDs. The enormous gap in identifying anti-TB drug resistance is a key result of the inadequate use of WRDs.

In the four stages of the diagnostic cascade—identifying presumptive TB, gaining access to testing, undergoing testing, and receiving a diagnosis—the WHO Standard consists of twelve benchmarks that must be calculated by nations. To help nations satisfy the standard and associated benchmarks, a mapping of enablers, methodologies, and solutions to scale up the usage of WRDs is offered. Additionally, two country case studies that provide actual examples of implementation are provided, along with specific investment considerations.

“Enabling universal access to rapid TB diagnostics, as recommended by WHO, will ensure that people with TB get on the pathway to cure faster, cutting transmission and the impact of this debilitating disease on their lives and families,” said Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “To ensure that everyone has access to WRDs, we encourage countries to swiftly implement the standard and call for investments and support from partners, donors, and civil society.”

More About Tuberculosis

Tb is an abbreviation for tuberculosis, which is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB can also affect other parts of the body such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and another person inhales the bacteria. TB can be treated with a combination of antibiotics, but it requires a long course of treatment to be effective. In some cases, TB can be fatal if left untreated or if the infection becomes drug-resistant. Vaccines are also available to prevent TB, but they are not always effective.

More About WRDs

The WRD test you are referring to is likely the “Whole-blood interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA)” test, which is also known as the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test or the QuantiFERON-TB test.

This test is a blood test used to detect the presence of tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in the body. It works by measuring the amount of interferon-gamma, a protein released by white blood cells in response to tuberculosis (TB) bacteria, in a patient’s blood sample. The WRD test is used as an alternative to the traditional tuberculosis (TB) skin test (TST) because it has higher specificity and is less likely to produce false-positive results.

The WRD test is considered a more accurate and reliable method for detecting TB infection, especially in people who have received the BCG vaccine or have been exposed to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), which can cause false-positive results in the TST. However, the WRD test is more expensive than the TST and requires a blood sample to be drawn and processed, which can be a disadvantage in resource-limited settings.

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