WHO supports rapid diagnosis of TB in Enga province

WHO TB Medical Officer Dr Lungten Wangchuk and Enga Governor Hon. Sir Peter Ipatas at the handover of the GeneXpert Machine in Enga Province,27 November, 2017.

Enga province now has a GeneXpert Machine at their provincial hospital which will help with rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) along with drug resistant TB (DR-TB) in the province.

The test done by the GeneXpert machine is called the Xpert MTB/RIF assay. It is is the rapid test for tuberculosis recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Xpert MTB/RIF assay can detect TB bacteria better than the conventional method of microscopy. It can also detect drug resistance to one of the most potent drugs, Rifampicin, in less than 2 hours whereas conventional method of culture and drug sensitivity testing to detect resistance takes months.

Papua New Guinea’s new policy on TB case detection recommends the Xpert MTB/RIF assay as the first line diagnostic test for TB. “The Xpert MTB/RIF test will improve diagnosis of TB and DR-TB which is important for better treatment outcome,” says Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Country Representative in PNG. The Xpert MTB/RIF was introduced in PNG in 2012. It is yet to be easily accessed by all provinces as it was initially used only for selected cases for diagnosis of DR-TB.

The GeneXpert machine and 500 cartridges were handed over by WHO to Enga Provincial Hospital on Wednesday, 27th of November 2017. Enga Governor, the honourable Sir Peter Ipatas, was present to receive the items, with provincial health officials and officials from the National Department of Health’s National TB Programme (NTP).

Governor Ipatas said the machine will help the people of Enga in their fight against TB. “We want to be free of TB so that our people can lead more economically productive lives. This machine can help us get there,” he said. The governor thanked WHO, adding that this was a great example of partnership support which should continue to be strengthened.