Ancient Testing Tool is Undoing of TB Elimination Program in India

Cutting Edge Technology Truenatmight reverse trend of failure of National Eradication Programme

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New Delhi/ Goa: World Tuberculosis Day falls on upcoming March 24. But India still has to go a long way to be able to pat its back on the day. Cases are still spiking unabated and threaten to bring all national health programs to naught. The multi drug resistance(MDB) TB is compounding the problem.

Despite years of national eradication program, the nation is consistently being back to square one, biggest reason being use of obsolete testing tool which is abysmally deficient in accuracy. Unless dependence on ancient testing tool is ‘eliminated’, the goal post of TB free India will have to be perennially shifted.

The introduction of newest ‘Make in India’ testing tool Truenat® Real-Time PCR with accuracy rate upward of 98%has raised hope of making a real reduction in TB cases constantly headed north. The National TB Elimination Program (NTEP) will be true to its name only when ancient testing tool sputum-based Smear Microscopy is eliminated completely root branch and body and in earnest at that.Replacing ages oldTesting Tool is key to Eliminating TB in India. But snail’s pace in the overhauling of testing tool is a matter of concern. The credible new testing tool is there for many years but still the major chunk of testing is being done by obsolete tool.

Renowned microbiologist Sriram Natrajan, Director & CEO of Molbio Diagnostic Pvt Ltd, the maker of Truenat, talked at length to Medicare News about the need to urgently eradicate TB from India and the roadblocks in the way of success of NTEP. Passionately wishing to be partof the solution, Mr Natrajan is ready to go all out to stop impending TB catastrophe in its track. His Molbio is said to be the first diagnostic company who provided India RTPCR testing tool for COVID.

Talking about TB testing tool, accuracy of which has been an issue in TB control for ages in India, Mr Natrajan, said, ‘The reason why cases of Tuberculosis is increasing despite revised TB control initiative NTEP is still continuing with ancient testing tool, Smear Microscopy,accuracy of which is very poor. India is using this technology for the last 30-35 years. Its pick-up rate is meagre 40%. This tool is about 150 years old. People testing false negativesdue to this obsolete test silently spread the scourge unawares. The result is we are back to square one despite our efforts. Real time PCR is the answer which the government has adopted two years ago. The newest testing tool needs to be comprehensively implemented. Piecemeal approach would not yield results. It is a positive development that the government too is seized with futility of ancient testing method.’

Mr Natrajan further said, ‘Molbio Diagnostic is planning for active mass screening in TB hot spots in the country. Mobile vans with X-ray and PCR test kit will be sent far and wide for this. With 98 % accuracy, its Truenat product is armed with the endorsement of WHO (World Health Organization) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and is being looked at as a force in renewed national TB control initiative. This system gives test result in 35 minutes sharp. This tool is being used in 40 countries including Bangladesh and Shri Lanka.’

Truenat, a product of Molbio Diagnostics, headquartered in Goa, is the world’s only laboratory independent molecular diagnostics solution for infectious diseases and is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a point of care test for Tuberculosis detection.

Over 4000 Truenat systems are already installed in India and another over 1000 systems globally.The widely acclaimed ‘Truenat® Real-Time PCR’ is the first such platform to be commercialized that has enabled even highly resource limited settings such as Primary and community Health Centers to conduct sophisticated molecular diagnostics as the frontline test for multiple diseases thus bringing in a paradigm shift to disease control and management and creating a huge impact on patient and societal well-being. Truenat®

The Truenat® platform comprises of fully automated, battery operated, portable and rugged machines and ready to use, room temperature stable, long shelf-life reagents and consumables. The current version of this platform, which was commercially launched in 2017, can test over 25 different diseases, with tests for over 30 additional diseases in the pipeline. The platform has helped increase rapid testing of various infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis, Dengue, Chikungunya, H1N1, Hepatitis and is now playing a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 across India and the world.

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