Stop TB Partnership

One-stop TB labs to bring faster, more cost-effective diagnosis to Malawi


8 April 2011 - Oegstgeest, The Netherlands - The time it takes to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) in Malawi is set to be slashed, after a new project supported by CheckTB! gained access to funding from ORIO, a Dutch Government grant facility.

The project will invest around € 3.5 million in one-stop TB diagnostic labs. Housed in 20 foot containers, the labs can be transported by standard trucks and become operational in almost any location in just two hours.

By bringing TB testing close to patients, the one-stop TB labs reduce the time it takes to diagnose TB and drug resistance from up to 50 days to just 2 hours. In addition, patients are spared the cost of multiple trips to clinics for testing.

The containers contain some of the latest diagnostic technologies such as direct digital x-ray units, LED microscopes and the Gene Xpert rapid TB test.

The labs can also benefit from teleradiology and Computer Aided Detection. This new diagnostic software was developed by Universities of Nijmegen and Cape Town and complements manual x-ray readings by classifying normal versus abnormal chest images and calculating the probability of abnormalities consistent with TB

Malawi's Ministry of Health, the National TB Control programme and other organizations will work with CheckTB! to put together a detailed implementation plan. Project roll-out is planned to start in October 2012.

"We are delighted with the green light for the Malawi project," said CheckTB!'s Wessel Eijkman and Frank van Doren. "One Stop TB Service facilitates early and cost-effective case finding close to social and clinical risk groups in Malawi."

Meanwhile, CheckTB!, in cooperation with the National TB programme of Ghana and KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation is closing in on another ORIO grant for early TB case detection incorporating similar innovations.

CheckTB!, a partner of the Stop TB Partnership, is a private consultancy initiative which aims to facilitate access to innovative TB case detection strategies. It is based in Oegstgeest, The Netherlands. For more information on CheckTB! and the 'One Stop TB Service' you can visit www.checktb.com.