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Optimising molecular diagnostic capacity for effective control of tuberculosis in high-burden settings

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Wilber Sabiiti, Bariki Mtafya, Davis Kuchaka, Khalide Azam, Sofia Viegas, Aaron Mdolo, Eoghan Farmer, Margaret Khonga, Dimitrios Evangelopoulos, Isobella Honeyborne, Andrea Rachow, Norbert Heinrich, Nyanda Elias Ntinginya, Nilesh Bhatt, Gerry R Davies, Ilesh V Jani, Timothy D McHugh, Gibson Kibiki, Michael Hoelscher, Stephen Henry Gillespie & 1 others PANBIOME (Pan-African Biomarker Expansion Programme) consortium

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The World Health Organization's 2035 vision is to reduce tuberculosis (TB) associated mortality by 95%. While low-burden, well-equipped industrialised economies can expect to see this goal achieved, it is challenging in the low- and middle-income countries that bear the highest burden of TB. Inadequate diagnosis leads to inappropriate treatment and poor clinical outcomes. The roll-out of the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay has demonstrated that molecular diagnostics can produce rapid diagnosis and treatment initiation. Strong molecular services are still limited to regional or national centres. The delay in implementation is due partly to resources, and partly to the suggestion that such techniques are too challenging for widespread implementation. We have successfully implemented a molecular tool for rapid monitoring of patient treatment response to anti-tuberculosis treatment in three high TB burden countries in Africa. We discuss here the challenges facing TB diagnosis and treatment monitoring, and draw from our experience in establishing molecular treatment monitoring platforms to provide practical insights into successful optimisation of molecular diagnostic capacity in resource-constrained, high TB burden settings. We recommend a holistic health system-wide approach for molecular diagnostic capacity development, addressing human resource training, institutional capacity development, streamlined procurement systems, and engagement with the public, policy makers and implementers of TB control programmes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1009
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

    Research areas

  • Tuberculosis, Diagnostics, Health systems, Policy, Disease control

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