India goes hi-tech against TB

2012-11-10 09:35

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New Delhi - Shammo Khan walks into a dusty courtyard that reeks of garbage, searching for the fingerprint of a man exhausted by HIV, drug withdrawal and the tuberculosis lesions hijacking his lungs.

New tests powered by computer chips are being rolled out that can quickly identify drug-resistant patients so they can be given the proper treatment with a longer course of different medicines.

"There's more innovation in the last year than in the prior decade in TB control," says Peter Small, a tuberculosis expert at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offices in India.

Counsellors only get paid for those who complete the standard six-month course of treatment, giving them an incentive to lie when patients drop out.

Government statistics provided by the counsellors show only 6% of patients don't finish treatment. Independent studies show defaults ranging from 15% to 33%. Some patients diagnosed with TB never start treatment in the first place.

"I keep explaining. I tell everybody that if you miss doses you will have to get injections, instead of six months it will be two years (of treatment), instead of a handful of medicines it can be 12," Khan said.


The government is already deep into its own tech overhaul.

The database will have details of the patient, the counselor and the treatment, down to the last dose taken, Kumar said. It will take advantage of the 900 million cellphones in the country. If patients miss a day, the database will send them a text message, he said.

"Many times they are not giving the right dose, they are not giving complete treatment, they are not following the patient," he said.

Kumar is more cautious in modernising the government's 13 000 testing centres, where technicians with microscopes use a TB test first developed in the 19th century that only catches about half the cases and can't determine if they are drug resistant.

The Truelab Micro PCR System uses a computer chip to run a TB test in under an hour. Another chip can test for drug sensitivity, he said.

If Indian health experts can make full use of all this new technology, "they can really turn the tide", said Small, the TB expert at the Gates Foundation.

"And if they don't, it's scary."


Read more on:    who  |  india  |  internet  |  technology  |  mobile  |  health
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
Most Read
News In Your Area
Top Lifestyle
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.