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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MOZAMBIQUE: Mozambique Turns to Technology in Battle Against Tuberculosis
Lucy Lamble
March 13, 2013
Guardian (03.12.13)

Support from the global health organization Unitaid will enable every province in Mozambique to have a GeneXpert machine, which provides automated testing that cuts the time required for TB diagnosis from two to three months to two hours. Health care workers collect a sputum sample in a testing cup, place the sample in a cartridge, and test the sample for TB bacteria in the GeneXpert machine. As a result, health care providers can diagnose TB and start a patient on drug therapy for multi-drug resistant TB in the same day. Mavalan Hospital nurse Armanda Metens Novela stated that the delay required by current testing methods causes the hospital to lose track of approximately 20 percent of TB patients, requiring expensive follow-up tracing. Dr. Gael Ciaquin, World Health Organization national protection officer for TB, cautioned that the increase expected in new diagnoses will strain treatment resources. Mozambique currently diagnoses 50,000 new TB cases annually; incidence is probably closer to 100,000. Ciaquin stated that the GeneXpert machine will be helpful in diagnosing infections in children and cases linked to HIV, which is associated with hard-to-treat TB forms. The GeneXpert machine, originally developed for anthrax testing, is small and easy to transport to remote locations. Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, and Britain formed Unitaid in 2006; since then, Unitaid has invested $40 million in healthcare in Mozambique. Funding for Unitaid comes from a “solidarity tax” of $1 for economy passengers and $40 for business and first-class airline passengers, levied by Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, and Niger. The solidarity tax has raised €1billion. United Kingdom funding comes from the Department for International Development. Support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and PEPFAR reduced the cost of the cartridges used in the GeneXpert machine from $16 to $10 for 145 low-income countries.