In recent developments, a conference centered around the theme “Find All TB to Stop TB” took place in Goa, India, earlier this month. The conference aimed to address the urgent need for efficient TB testing methods and access to these methods in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The underlying message emphasized the critical importance of finding all TB cases in order to effectively end this global health crisis.
Although the call to replace microscopy with upfront molecular tests for TB diagnosis has been present for several years, the actions taken to implement this change have been inadequate. Shockingly, the latest WHO Global TB Report reveals that globally, only 47 percent of notified people with TB received a molecular test diagnosis in 2022. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for action to ensure early and accurate TB diagnosis.
The conference’s first action point emphasized the necessity of replacing underperforming TB tests, such as smear microscopy, with laboratory-independent, point-of-care, and decentralised molecular testing. It is crucial to raise awareness about the existence and demand for these advanced testing methods among communities.
Dr. Tara Singh Bam, the Asia Pacific Regional Director of The Union, stated that early and accurate TB diagnosis not only plays a vital role in the TB care pathway but also helps prevent the spread of infection and reduces unnecessary suffering and untimely deaths. The focus should be on making TB diagnostics easily accessible and bringing them closer to the point-of-need, rather than expecting individuals to come to a laboratory.
To address this issue comprehensively, the global call to find all TB cases requires two key actions. Firstly, there must be a complete replacement of smear microscopy with WHO recommended molecular tests, accompanied by a shift from a lab-centric to a people-centric approach to TB diagnosis. This shift ensures that no one is left behind in accessing essential TB care services. Secondly, it is essential to actively identify and screen all individuals at risk of TB, particularly in high burden settings, and provide them with the best possible molecular testing and linkage to TB care.
This comprehensive strategy not only requires the involvement of the healthcare sector but also calls for a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach. Local leaders play a pivotal role in translating global promises into practical realities. Engaging local leaders and implementing a well-coordinated integrated health response is crucial for achieving sustainable development and effectively combating TB.
Overall, the conference in Goa highlighted the urgent need to prioritize people-centric TB diagnosis and treatment in order to stop the spread of TB. Efforts must be directed towards ensuring access to efficient TB testing methods and implementing evidence-based practices to diagnose and treat TB cases accurately and promptly. By ending the deadly divide between global goals and local realities, we can progress towards a healthier future where TB no longer poses a threat to individuals and communities.
Q: What was the key focus of the conference in Goa?
A: The conference aimed to emphasize the need for efficient TB testing methods and access to these methods in order to find all TB cases and effectively stop the spread of TB.
Q: What are the recommended actions to address the current challenges in TB diagnosis?
A: The conference highlighted the need to replace underperforming TB tests with laboratory-independent, point-of-care, and decentralised molecular testing. Additionally, a shift from a lab-centric to a people-centric approach to TB diagnosis is crucial to ensure that all individuals have access to necessary TB care services.
Q: Why is early and accurate TB diagnosis essential?
A: Early and accurate TB diagnosis is critical in preventing the spread of infection, reducing unnecessary suffering, and preventing untimely deaths due to TB.
Q: What is the global call to find all TB?
A: The global call to find all TB cases aims to ensure that no TB cases are missed. It requires replacing microscopy with upfront molecular tests, implementing a people-centric approach to TB diagnosis, and actively screening and providing molecular testing and TB care linkage to individuals at risk of TB.