The Union government is set to launch at four locations in the country a new WHO-recommended tuberculosis test that will detect the disease in just two hours. As of now,it takes two days to detect TB using the sputum test.
The test will be conducted free of cost at Amtala Rural Hospital in South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal ,LNJP chest clinic in New Delhi,a hospital at Pavagada in Karnatakas Tumkur district,and the Urban Health Centre in Dharavi in Mumbai. However,if the test is done outside a government hospital it will cost Rs 1,000.
Its a good initiative as it will help detect the disease quite early. People of South 24 Parganas district who are poor and where the scheme is being launched will benefit a lot, Shyamapada Basak,a TB expert told The Indian Express.
The new test XpertMTB/Rif is a computerised test that will not only detect tuberculousis but also if it is resistant to Rifampicin,the drug used to treat TB.
The Revised National Tuberculousis Programme of India (RNTCP),in collaboration with NGO Foundation for Innovative new Diagnostics(FIND),is also evaluating the feasibility and impact of the test on TB detection across 18 sites in India,especially in states like West Bengal ,New Delhi,Mumbai and Punjab.
According to WHO,India has the highest TB burden in the world. Out of 9.4 million new TB cases each year,2 million are estimated to occur in India. In a year,TB kills around 2,80,000 people in India.
According to the latest WHO Global Tuberculosis Control Report ,there may be more than 500,000 cases of multi drug resistant TB worldwide. Current testing for drug resistance can take more than 4 weeks,leading to higher mortality and the further spread of MDR strains.