THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

UNITAID and WHO announce roll-out of rapid TB testing machines

UNITAID, a global health organization, and the World Health Organization announced on Tuesday that they began the roll-out of GeneXpert rapid tuberculosis testing machines to 21 countries.

UNITAID invested $25.9 million to buy more than 220 GeneXpert machines and 1.4 million test cartridges for 21 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. An agreement between UNITAID and the device's manufacturer, Cepheid, resulted in a 40 percent price reduction of GeneXpert TB cartridges. The reduced prices will allow countries to test more people for TB with the same amount of money.

The TBXpert project to distribute the devices is being coordinated by the WHO and the Stop TB Partnership and is anticipated to save up to 62,000 lives.

The 21 countries that will receive the devices include Vietnam, Uzbekistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, Moldova, Philippines, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Mozambique, Malawi, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Ethiopia, Congo, Cambodia, Belarus and Bangladesh.

GeneXpert is a highly-accurate test that requires minimal training to use and can provide results to healthcare workers within two hours. Standard TB tests required microscopes and took several weeks to obtain results. Testing for multi-drug-resistant TB also takes much less time with the GeneXpert device.

According to UNITAID's website, the organization uses innovative financing to increase funding for access to treatments and diagnostics for TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS in low-income countries.