Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have released a joint publication, which surveys tuberculosis treatment (TB) and diagnosis policy and practice in 24 countries, reports Health-e News.
According to the report, about 70% of surveyed countries had no policies in place to ensure people who were thought to have TB or drug-resistant TB had access to rapid molecular testing early. The finding comes as on about a quarter of multidrug-resistant TB patients worldwide receive treatment, according to the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, the 92-page report says South Africa is at the forefront of Gene Xpert rapid TB testing implementation, having opted for replacing smear microscopy with the machine and achieving 100% coverage in the public sector.
The report recommends countries expand access to rapid molecular TB testing to ensure early diagnosis and treatment, while reducing transmission and the emergence of drug-resistant TB. It adds that this move will also reduce costs associated with TB diagnosis and treatment in the long run.
The report goes on to argue that if the world is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to End TB by 2030, aggressive efforts must start now to adopt and implement the key policies and practices, including: the removal or policies that mandate compulsory hospitalisation for TB patients, and have hospitalisation depend on clinical need; the proactive registration or new medicines in countries where clinical trials take place and other high-burden TB countries even in small markets; and the acceleration of combined drug research to create appropriate regimens.