New Delhi: Union health ministry will soon roll out an indigenously developed diagnostic test called “Truenat test" for effective case detection of Tuberculosis (TB).
This point-of-care (POC) molecular diagnostic test has been validated through multi-centric studies and has also been found to be comparable with internationally approved molecular diagnostic tests, country’s apex research body—Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said. The Tuberculosis Research Consortium (ITRC), formed by the ICMR, convened its second International Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG) meeting this week in New Delhi.
“India has relied heavily on smear microscopy technology (the traditional, manual Sputum smear diagnosis of TB) for decades, and case detection continues to be a major gap in the cascade of care. While a Cartridge-based Nucleic Acid Amplification test (CBNAAT) has been successfully rolled-out as a tool to detect drug resistance, it remains expensive and largely inaccessible as a front-line TB test," said Soumya Swaminathan, secretary at department of health research, ministry of health & family welfare, and director general, ICMR.
ISAG suggested that all patients testing positive for TB by POC test, may also be tested by another nationally endorsed rapid test for diagnosing drug resistance TB. The committee also recommended a cost-effectiveness analysis and optimization of the POC test for rifampicin (commonly used antibiotic to treat TB) resistance.
TB case detection has been a challenge for the union health ministry. The ministry recently started a campaign of random screening of vulnerable groups and the results are concerning. “So far, we have screened over 2 lakh patients across country and over 11,000 have been diagnosed with TB," said Sunil Khaparde, deputy director general (TB) union health ministry.
According to Global TB Report 2017 by World Health Organization (WHO), India has the highest number of TB cases in the world. The report also said that an estimated 2.79 million patients were suffering from TB in 2016 in India and up to 423,000 patients were estimated to have died.