WHO unveils radical new TB diagnosis machine

The World Health Organisation unveiled a new "while you wait" test for tuberculosis, that radically cuts down the testing time and detects drug resistant forms of the deadly lung disease.

The desktop computer-sized automated test machine produces results in 100 minutes instead of up to six weeks of laboratory testing for the TB bacteria, which infects about one-third of the world's population, according to the UN health agency.

The machine analyses a sample of the patient's spittle.

Detects TB in one hour and 40 minutes

"What we are doing today at WHO is to endorse the use by countries of a new fully automated rapid test that detects quickly in one hour and 40 minutes tuberculosis and the most difficult forms of tuberculoses," said Mario Raviglione, head of the WHO's Stop TB programme.

"This test will transform and revolutionise the way we handle TB care and control," he added.

Raviglione underlined that it could detect hard to treat drug resistant forms and TB associated with HIV/AIDS.

The statistics

Half a million HIV positive people die from TB each year, a quarter of all AIDS deaths, according to UNAIDS.

The WHO has high hopes of improving detection in developing countries, the hardest hit areas.

The number of cases of tuberculosis in the world stabilised last year, with 9.4 million new infections. About 1.7 million people died.

The UN health agency is trying to cut the death rate by half by 2015. It has warned that progress against the disease is far too slow. (Sapa/ November 2010)

Read more:
TB therapy halves deaths in Aids patients
Health Minister's TB tips
Why is TB so hard to cure?


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