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Times of India
02 February 2012
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi India
Current Methods May Take Up To 4 Months Per Case

Now, diagnosing multi–drug resistant TB (MDR TB) patients will take less than two hours.

India has cleared the proposal to roll out a new diagnostic test genexpert across 18 sites that will test and confirm MDR TB within 120 minutes. About 99,000 Indians suffering from TB are becoming drug–resistant every year. However,the diagnostic tools available take between two days and four months to confirm a single drug–resistant case during which time the air–borne disease spreads. The new test aims to increase diagnosis of the deadly disease by at least seven–fold.

The sites where the new test is being introduced include Rohtak , Dharavi, Amravati, Udaipur and Jodhpur, Bilaspur, Malkangiri (Orissa), Tehri (Uttarakhand), South 24 Parganas (West Bengal), Sangam Vihar (Delhi), Indore and two sites each in Vijayanagaram (Andhra Pradesh), Kamrup (Assam) and Ranchi. Treating MDRTB patients is expensive.

Now, Test To Detect MDR TB In 2 hrs

While treating a TB patient costs India Rs 600 over six to eight months, the expense for every MDR–TB patient is about Rs 1.5 lakh during a 24–28 months period. Union health ministry officials told TOI that the machine and cartridges for genexpert are being provided to India by the WHO for free for the next two years.

“At present, a Line Probe Assay test available across 18 sites takes two days to diagnose a single MDR sample, while liquid culture test and solid culture test take two months and four months respectively. Time is crucial. A single MDR TB patient can spread the disease to 15 people every year, if left untreated,” said a ministry official.

About 7,000 MDR TB patients are on treatment in India – of which 3,500 were put on treatment last year. Around 36 labs can test MDR samples. The feasibility of using genexpert will be studied over the next two years.

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