New TB strain tests coming

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

A test that could dramatically reduce the diagnosis time for MDR-TB will be evaluated in 12 months.

The announcement was made by the South African Medical Research Council in partnership with the National Health Laboratory Service and the Geneva-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics after the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the parties this week.

The test would be evaluated based on about 40000 TB patients with increased risk of multidrug-resistant TB.

Project preparations are under way in the five provinces most affected by the strain - Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

The research council said rapid diagnosis of MDR-TB would have great benefits.

These include earlier treatment of patients, which would "undoubtedly" save more lives, and reducing time spent on inappropriate and ineffective treatment.

It also said, based on the results of the demonstration studies, the council and the laboratory would issue policy recommendations on the routine use and roll-out of the two tests to the Department of Health. Testing would begin next month.