RESEARCH: Ifakara announces latest partnership for improving TB diagnostics

TB diagnostic equipment. PHOTO | FILE
April 6, 2021
RESEARCH: Ifakara announces latest partnership for improving TB diagnostics

Ifakara Health Institute is part of a twelve-member consortium led by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) which will conduct clinical trials to provide evidence for impactful implementation of tuberculosis (TB) and TB/HIV co-infection diagnostic strategies in three African countries.

Trials will be conducted in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa (all among countries bearing a huge TB burden) under a research project titled: TB - Close the gap, increase Access, Provide adequate Therapy, with the official short form being, “TB-CAPT.” According to the project Principal Investigator, Dr. Jerry Hella, the project is planned to last 28 months.

TB-CAPT has been granted nearly €6 million, as part of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership 2 (EDCTP2) programme supported by the European Union, to contribute to the global efforts in fighting TB which currently affects over 10 million people annually.

Apart from Ifakara and the FIND, other members of the consortium include: African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), Ethiopia; Fundacao Manhica, Mozambique; and Fundación Privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona, Spain; and Instituto Nacional de Saúde, Mozambique.

Others are: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Germany; National Institute for Medical Research – Tanzania; Ospedale San Raffaele, Italy; Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland; University of Cape Town, South Africa; and Wits Health Consortium, South Africa.

The consortium which will help strengthen north-south research collaborations in the fight against TB, convened formally for the first time on 1 November 2019, during the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India.

Why This is Important Now

TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease. In 2018 alone, 10 million people fell ill and 1.5 million died from it (including 251,000 people co-infected with HIV). Around 3 million of these people were “missing” from national health systems, either because they did not access healthcare or were not diagnosed. Drug-resistant TB continues to be a public health crisis – in 2018, it was estimated that half a million people developed TB that was resistant to rifampicin, the most effective first-line drug, and 78% of those people had multidrug-resistant TB.

Yet, just under 187,000 DR-TB cases were actually detected and reported. Africa accounts for around a quarter of the global disease burden, with Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa all being designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as high-burden TB countries.

Improved diagnostics for detection of TB and for rapid, expanded DST at lower levels of the healthcare system are urgently needed to find the “missing millions” and enable treatment for all patients where they first seek care. The TB-CAPT trials have been designed to take into account local epidemiology, as well as existing infrastructure.

The TB-CAPT trial will evaluate the impact of innovative diagnostic technologies versus current standards of care on participating individuals, including the effects of expanding TB testing strategies for people living with HIV who also have TB.

Data gathered will inform WHO policy on POC testing strategies for TB, and support planning for potential implementation and scale-up by participating ministries of health. Further, TB-CAPT aims to build capacity for the implementation of diagnostic trials that will serve in the evaluation of future diagnostic tests.

More About the Consortium and the TB-CAPT Project

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) leads a 12-member consortium which will conduct clinical trials to provide evidence for impactful implementation of tuberculosis (TB) and TB/HIV co-infection diagnostic strategies in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.

Efforts to address the TB epidemic often stumble due to a lack of high-quality diagnostic tests that can be used at community levels or in remote areas. The TB-CAPT consortium includes world-leading institutions that are perfectly placed to evaluate new technologies with the potential to close these gaps so that every person with TB can know their status and access the care they need.

“TB-CAPT will generate evidence to inform the impactful implementation of TB and TB/HIV co-infection diagnostic strategies including drug-susceptibility testing (DST) at the point of care (POC),” the consortium reports in their official website for the project information launched on March 24, 2021.

Learn more about the project here: Facilitating implementation of TB testing: The TB-CAPT (Close the gap, increase Access, Provide adequate Therapy).or Check out the project's website.

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