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SCIENTISTS in the country envisage studying the new version of Tuberculosis diagnosis machine to establish the possibility of using it at primary health care facilities.
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Should the study succeed, the experts say, the machine will boost the country’s efforts to combat the disease through increased detection rate and reducing waiting time for diagnosis results.

The Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) Senior Research Scientist, Dr Frederick Haraka, said recently that the study on the new device would commence next year. He was speaking to a group of journalists who attended IHI organised one-day training in Bagamoyo, Coast region, to empower the media on health research coverage.

Dr Haraka said that the current TB diagnosis machine can be used only up to the district-level health facilities because it has specifications to observe in its operation.

“There is a new version of GeneXpert known as GeneXpert Omni, which has already been developed, we plan to commence our study on the new device next year,” he said, hinting that the study will be conducted in Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo.

“We want to test the ability of this device, to establish whether it can be used at lower- level health facilities,” Dr Haraka said, adding: “This is a reliable TB test which is molecular based and a patient can get the results within two hours and immediately start treatment, reducing infection rate.”

Meanwhile, IHI scientists are conducting another study to come up with a combination of TB drugs that will be administered in a shorter period. They said currently TB medication lasts up to six months, resulting into some patients dropping out of treatment due to the medication’s long duration.

Dr Haraka said the study is conducted in collaboration with Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. “We are conducting this study in phases and we are now at an advanced stage… our aim is to come up with drug combination that will lessen the treatment duration from the current six to less than four months,” Dr Haraka said.

He explained, taking that long during medication creates the possibility of some patients dropping out of the treatment, adding that long dosage is associated with side effects. TB is among the deadliest diseases in the world, ranked number three among the infectious diseases after Malaria and HIV/ AIDS.

Tanzania is among hardest hit countries, with TB prevalence estimated at 295 cases per 100,000 people. Between 60,000 and 65,000 patients are reported in the country, annually.

Dr Haraka noted that last year, over 10 million people were infected with TB globally, with 1.3 million of them dying from the disease and 600,000 cases of Multidrugresistant TB reported.

The World Health Organisation has set out goals under the End TB Strategy aimed at reducing death arising from the disease by 90 per cent and cut new cases by 30 per cent.

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