The Hindu (Chennai) (09.13.2013)
Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) in Tamil Nadu, India, announced that in a “couple of weeks” the hospital would have advanced equipment that could produce multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) test results in approximately two hours. The Union Government’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) purchased the hospital’s new equipment with World Health Organization (WHO) assistance. CMCH would use the machine to provide free TB testing for all TB patients and HIV-infected people in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Namakkal, and Karur districts. Patients receiving private care could also use the free service.
At present, MDR TB testing required that sputum samples go through a three-month culture process, and then go to the Intermediate Reference Laboratories at Chetpet, Chennai. CMCH’s advanced equipment would use cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing that detected the drug-resistant gene in cell nuclei and eliminated the need for the culture process. Coimbatore reported 1,255 new TB diagnoses in the last six months.
Three other Tamil Nadu facilities—IRL in Chennai, Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, and Christian Medical College in Vellore—had the advanced equipment. The Central TB Division of Directorate General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health, and Family Welfare partnered with WHO to develop the RNTCP, which was the second largest TB control program in the world.