New research reveals improved TB detection methods in Cambodia

New research reveals improved TB detection methods in Cambodia.
New research reveals improved TB detection methods in Cambodia. | Courtesy of cdc.gov
New research from Phnom Penh slums, where tuberculosis (TB) is especially prominent, shows that a more effective method of detecting TB cases may be accomplished with strong local community involvement and novel diagnostic tools.

TB, a highly infectious disease, is transmitted through the air. According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), over a third of TB cases are either untreated or undiagnosed in Cambodia, particularly in the poorer populations.

The new method has already enabled health workers to more quickly and efficiently detect TB cases. This, in turn, decreases the chances of further transmission of TB and outbreaks.

The study, which was led by Natalie Lorent, a Ph.D. student at the University of Antwerp (UA) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM), was conducted within the Phnom Penh slums.

To solve the problem of untreated or undiagnosed cases, Lorent and her team created a new, “active case finding strategy.” This method involves community health workers who visit people at their homes. The worker actively search for TB symptoms and also collect samples to analyze in local labs.

"We were able to detect TB cases among the urban poor, who have far less access to healthcare,” Lorent said. “Untreated patients may die of the disease, but they may also infect others around them. It is therefore important to find and treat new cases as soon as possible.”

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Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp

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