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Uganda: Government rolls out new TB urine test in hospitals

Kampala. Government has rolled out a new tuberculosis (TB) test technology that uses urine samples to provide results in 20-25 minutes as opposed to the traditional use of sputum to diagnose the same disease.

Sputum is a thick fluid that is produced in the lungs and the airways leading to the lungs usually collected by the person coughing.

Dr Stavia Turyahabwe, the acting assistant Commissioner for National TB and Leprosy Division at Ministry of Health, said the test is currently restricted for people who are very sick with a CD4 count of less than 100; where it has not been easy to diagnose the disease using sputum.

“For Aids patients, it is not easy that you will find the TB germ in the sputum as the TB germ may not be in the lungs.

It may be in other parts of the body unlike other people where the system is able to fight the germ and part of the response is coughing through which the germ is expelled from the lungs,” Dr Turyahabwe said.

She said the rapid test detects the lipoarabinomannan (LAM) antigen in urine samples.
Dr Turyahabwe made the revelation at a press briefing that followed a high level meeting between Ministry of Health-Uganda and Abbott Rapid Diagnostics top leadership who are also the developers of the new TB rapid test.

Abbott is an American healthcare company engaged in the discovery, development, manufacture and sale of a range of healthcare products.

The joint meeting was held as part of the efforts intended to further strengthen and improve Laboratory Service delivery, embrace strategic innovations, reenergize and generate new momentum of infectious disease response in Uganda.

Dr Susan Nabadda, the ministry’s head of laboratory services, said the new rapid test is currently available in all regional referral hospitals, most district hospitals and some health centre IVs accessed at no charge.

“We expressed interest to see if Abbott can modify this technology so that we can reach [people living with HIV] with even much higher CD4 so that the detection of TB in this population is much easier, so that we prevent death,” Dr Nabadda told journalists.

Currently, the HIV prevalence in Uganda is estimated at 6 per cent and approximately 50 to 60 per cent of TB patients are also co-infected with HIV.

The country is also among 22 high TB-burdened countries in the world
Meanwhile, the ministry is also working with Abbott Laboratories to introduce a rapid diagnostic test to detect malaria infections before they advance into disease as a move intended to eradicate the killer disease.

On malaria
The Health ministry is also working with Abbott laboratories to introduce a rapid diagnostic test to detect malaria infections before they advance as a move intended to eradicate the killer disease.

Currently, from the time the malaria parasite is injected in one’s body, the available tests can only detect it if it measures at least 100 parasites per micro-litre of blood at which point the victim has already developed the diseases marked by fever and headache.

By Daily Monitor

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