WHO releases first-ever Standard on universal access to rapid TB diagnostics

World Health Organization
April 19, 2023, 8:05 p.m.
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The Standard sets benchmarks to achieve universal access to WHO-recommended rapid diagnostics, increase bacteriologically confirmed TB and drug resistance detection, and reduce the time to diagnosis.

19 April 2023 | Geneva | The World Health Organization (WHO) has just released for the first-time - the WHO standard: Universal access to rapid tuberculosis diagnostics, setting benchmarks to: achieve universal access to WHO-recommended rapid diagnostics (WRDs); increase bacteriologically-confirmed TB and detection of drug resistance; and reduce the time to diagnosis. WHO-recommended rapid diagnostics are highly accurate, cost-effective, reduce the time to treatment initiation, and impact patient-important outcomes.

Although WHO’s End TB Strategy calls for all notified TB patients to be tested initially with a WRD by 2025, in 2021, only 38% received a WRD as an initial test, and access to diagnostics was identified as a critical underlying issue. A significant consequence of the insufficient use of WRDs is the large gap in detecting resistance to anti-TB drugs.

The WHO Standard comprises twelve benchmarks to be computed by countries in the four steps of the diagnostic cascade: identifying presumptive TB, accessing testing, being tested, and receiving a diagnosis. Mapping of enablers, approaches, and solutions to scale up the use of WRDs is provided to assist countries in meeting the standard and related benchmarks. Specific investment considerations are also provided, as well as two country case studies providing real-world examples of implementation.

“Enabling universal access to rapid TB diagnostics recommended by WHO, will ensure that people with TB get on the pathway to cure faster, cutting transmission and the impact of this debilitating disease on their lives and families,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “We encourage countries to rapidly implement the standard and call for investments and support from partners, donors and civil society to ensure universal access to WRDs”.

Source: World Health Organization