TB or not TB? That is the question

A big part of the misdiagnoses landscape today is people getting late diagnoses. While this dynamic unfortunately is occurring throughout the world, the developing world, in particular, continues to struggle with people not getting health answers in time to do something about them.  A classic case is tuberculosis, which still claims nearly 1.5 million lives each year, with more than five times that number of people being severely sickened by the disease.

In 2012, the U.S. government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UNITAID announced a collaboration to make the Xpert rapid diagnostic test for tuberculosis available for nearly half the normal price in 145 countries where TB rates are high. Until recently, a TB diagnosis required a visual detection of the bacterium under a microscope. That test alone took weeks to administer and read. This new step means diagnoses can be delivered in hours, rather than weeks. This is the sort of forward-looking, logical approach to health care – and to getting the right diagnosis in time – that is so sorely needed by millions of people the world over.

When it comes to getting the right treatment, diagnostic time and accuracy can be two of the biggest factors. Even in the U.S., too many patients suffer when tests are read incorrectly, the wrong tests are administered, or the right answers just take too long to find. This global TB initiative is a critical one – one that clearly has the potential to save millions of lives, and one that recognizes the importance of getting the right diagnosis as soon as possible.


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