Pacific Family Health Journal: Article 13 – Genexpert TB Testing

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Pacific Family Health Journal with Dr Rodney Itaki

Genexpert TB Testing: The Global Game Changer In Drug Resistant TB Treatment

Genexpert TB Testing continues to be the global game changer in diagnosing and treating drug resistant TB worldwide. The Genexpert test uses DNA based technology to look for TB genetic material in samples from TB patients.

The game changer has been the ability of the test to simultaneously test for TB genetic material and test for drug resistant genes. Although the test was initially developed to use sputum samples, it can now test other biological samples such as urine.

Testing for needle aspirates – which consists of pus and blood, was first trialed in Africa about 7 years ago. Most of the research data on needle aspirates, especially testing for needle biopsy samples from TB gland comes from South Africa.

My research on Genexpert testing for TB lymph node biopsy samples in PNG TB patients was the first. The results of our study have contributed to changes in TB testing protocol at the Central Public Health Laboratory. This protocol is now also used throughout PNG.

TB continues to be a significant consumer of health resources in PNG and the story appears to changing for the better slowly but it will take another 20-30 years for TB to be under control. Although diagnosing and treating TB cases is the front line war against TB in PNG, there are major social factors driving the TB epidemic in PNG that needs be mentioned. These are overcrowding, poor access to healthcare, low health literacy and poverty.

I believe these social factors also need to be aggressively managed because in the process we will not only control TB but also elevate the general quality of life in PNG.

Thank you all who have been reading my articles and I hope to continue to offer interesting reads in the New Year. If you would like me to write about a special topic of interest to you, do email me.  

Merry Xmas and Happy and Safe New Year Celebrations.

Dr Rodney Itaki, MBBS, BMedSci

Read Pacific Family Health Journal with Dr Rodney Itaki every Wednesday on PNGBUZZ.COM

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