According to the report, about 70 percent of surveyed countries had no policies in place to ensure people who were thought to have TB or drug-resistant TB had access to rapid molecular testing early. The finding comes as on about a quarter of multidrug-resistant TB patients worldwide receive treatment, according to the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, the 92-page report says South Africa is at the forefront of Gene Xpert rapid TB testing implementation, having opted for replacing smear microscopy with the machine and achieving 100 percent coverage in the public sector.
The report recommends countries expand access to rapid molecular TB testing to ensure early diagnosis and treatment, while reducing transmission and the emergence of drug-resistant TB. It adds that this move will also reduce costs associated with TB diagnosis and treatment in the long run.
The report goes on to argue that if the world is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to End TB by 2030, aggressive efforts must start now to adopt and implement the key policies and practices, including:
- The removal or policies that mandate compulsory hospitalisation for TB patients, and have hospitalization depend on clinical need;
- The proactive registration or new medicines in countries where clinical trials take place and other high-burden TB countries even in small markets;
- The acceleration of combined drug research to create appropriate regimens.
Download the report: Out of Step 2015 – TB Policies in 24 Countries