The validation of an Indian-made diagnostic test for tuberculosis, TruNat is an achievement in itself for India. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) said if it is validated, India would have developed a TB diagnostic test for the world.
Dr. Swaminathan said “We have the Indian-made diagnostic test – TruNat – that is in the process of getting validated. It will be the first point of care molecular TB diagnostic test that can be taken into a primary health centre and used because it is battery-operated. It is much more user-friendly than GeneXpert.”
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Dr Swaminathan said since the first United Nations high-level meeting on TB in September 2018, the call from the UN meeting was to ask all countries, especially TB high-burden countries, to invest more in TB control.
“Currently we have a gap of about two-thirds of what is needed annually for TB, including research and development. It is estimated that you need $2 billion per year to generate new tools, diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and we are only spending less than a third of that,” she added.
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Moreover, Dr Soumya said Indian and some BRICS countries accounted for about 70 per cent of the TB burden. She said India, Russia and China together have 50 per cent of the world Multi Drug-Resistant TB burden with India having 27 per cent of the world’s TB cases.
“India has set a target of 2025 for elimination of TB. The modelling shows it will at least be 2045 by the time we can make any difference. We need to add on new things and studies to reduce TB incidence and burden at the community level.” She added that India was moving faster on MDR and XDR (Extensively Drug-Resistance) TB than on drug-sensitive TB. “We need to look at other innovative approaches.”