New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has endorsed a new and novel test which promises to give accurate diagnosis for tuberculosis (TB) in just 100 minutes.
"This new test represents a major milestone for global TB diagnosis and care. It also represents new hope for millions of people who are at the highest risk of TB and drug-resistant diseases," Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO`s Stop TB department, said.
India accounts for a third of the global burden of tuberculosis, the highest in the world, with nearly two million cases recorded in 2009.
"We have the scientific evidence, we have defined the policy, and now we aim to support implementation for impact in countries," Raviglione said.
The current tests of sputum smear microscopy, a diagnostic method that was developed over a century ago, takes nearly three months to show results.
The fully automated Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) comes after 18 months of rigorous assessment of its field effectiveness in the early diagnosis of the disease, as well as multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and TB complicated by HIV infection, which are more difficult to diagnose.
NAAT incorporates modern DNA technology that can be used outside of conventional laboratories.
WHO is also releasing testing protocols (or algorithms) to optimise the use and benefits of the new technology in those people who need it most.
According to the WHO, nearly 500,000 people die from TB in India every year, more than 1,000 every day, one every minute.