We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

The WHO has endorsed a new tuberculosis (TB) test, saying it is a "major milestone" and calling for it to be rolled out across affected countries as part of its national TB plans.

The new test, which detects more than 90 per cent of TB cases, including drug-resistant TB and TB in HIV patients, cuts diagnosis time from up to two months to 100 minutes.

It is now being rolled out in India and South Africa, with plans to start using it soon in Ethiopia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Uganda.

"This new test represents a major milestone for global TB diagnosis and care," said Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's Stop TB Partnership, in a statement this week (8 December).

"We have the scientific evidence, we have defined the policy, and now we aim to support implementation for impact in countries."

Rajiv Shah, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said in a statement: "USAID stands ready to support the roll-out of this new technology, including the advancement of sound international policy, training and impact monitoring".

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a Geneva-based non-profit organisation, has negotiated with the manufacturer, Cepheid, a 75 per cent discount for the equipment for developing countries.

This reduction was dependent on the WHO endorsing it for wide-scale use. Now the price of the device will be US$17,000 for the 116 low- to middle-income countries that have a high TB burden. The price of a single test will be US$16.86.

"As the uptake and production volume go up, the price will come further down," Lakshmi Sundaram, FIND's advocacy officer, told SciDev.Net.

"WHO and FIND forecast that, within a year, the price of a test will go down to US$14 and, within three years, to US$10."

But she warned that, as the test is taken up, there will be a sudden increase in the number of diagnosed cases. Close collaboration with the drug community is needed through national TB programmes to ensure all diagnosed people have access to treatment, she said.

The WHO is planning a stakeholders meeting in November 2011 to assess evidence about the test's efficacy and reliability in real-life settings.

Link to WHO roadmap for roll-out of the test [885kB]

See below for a video of how the test works:


Related topics